1619 & Equiano Reflection

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. 

Woo-hoo, America. 


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. 

5 thoughts on “1619 & Equiano Reflection

  1. I’ve also thought a lot about Hannah-Jones’s dad and his patriotism after listening to the podcast. It’s sort of inspiring to know that there are still oppressed figures so still believe in the opportunity for greatness, similar to how you put it. But on the other hand, I totally get why others who were/still oppressed don’t exactly have that same viewpoint.

  2. That is a fantastic point. Each person views life through a lens of their own experiences and that is how they view things like patriotism. Could you take it further though and say that because the two men strove to embody the ideals in which they believed that they are more devout christian/patriot because of that? Instead of the people who pretend that the are all about the ideals while systematically oppressing an entire section of the population?

    1. Both Equiano and Mr.Jones wholly dedicated themselves to their respective -isms. I agree they would be considered to be devout members of each of their groups.

      Interesting point you bring up about oppressors that pretend to embody a certain set of ideals. I think this can be observed in several different areas of our society, whether it’s religious, political, or some intersection of the two.

  3. I loved your entire reflection. You made a lot of great points. I found it interesting how you bring up how everyone views patriotism differently. It made me question what I believe is being patriotic compared to some of the usual views like you mentioned. It is admirable that both men still found a way to love their country, or religion despite what they were put through. I think the flag represented the desire for reform and a better country for Hannah-Jones dad which is why he flew it everyday. He could see what others couldn’t see; he had a vision for this country and how it could grow into a better place for everyone which is inspiring.

  4. I loved the take you made about sticking to one’s ideals, and how those differ when viewed from another lens. Both men loved what they loved, whether it was one’s own country or religious views, and even if your views don’t align with what the “norm” is then you should still do what you think is right. In the case of Equiano, he was a man of God and knew you shouldn’t treat others poorly, and even though so these other “Christians” are doing things differently than still do what you think is right.

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