You will not find two Americans whose definition of patriotism is the same. To many, patriotism is the love of one’s country for the plethora of opportunities and options they’ve been afforded in their life. Some may love America because they can go to the supermarket, pick one of fifty different types of beer, and speed home in their pickup emblazoned with the stars and stripes. All while saying and doing what they please, fully armed.
You get the point.
Other Americans may not have the same definition of patriotism. Americans who have been victimized or affected by systemic forces they cannot control. Americans who have grown up in an environment wildly different than that of their contemporaries. Americans like Nikole Hannah Jones’s father. Who grew up in Mississippi, unable to vote, picking cotton in the most dangerous state for black people in the country.
This man; persecuted and abused, was denied employment opportunities in his countries military. Who later worked as a bus driver and a clerk. Was the same man that flew a pristine American flag above his house every day.
Hannah Jones’ father seemed to have a personal, meaningful connection to the American ideals of progress and self-sufficiency. Instead of loving America for what the country had done for him, he loved America for what he felt the future could hold, and for the society it could hopefully become. He was proud to be an American, perhaps because he saw opportunity for his country, just as he saw opportunity for himself.
Equiano and Mr. Jones seemed to share the sentiment that they can use the language, culture, and customs of their oppressors to appear more “respectable”. In the same way that Equiano can be considered a better Christian than many Europeans because of his dedication to embodying their ideals; Mr. Jones can be considered a better American than many others because of his service to his country as well as his desire to reform said country into something better for everyone.