27. May 2016 12:22
by Administrator

MAKE AMERICA (fill in the blank) AGAIN by Ahmad Ward

27. May 2016 12:22 by Administrator | 0 Comments

“Make America Great Again.”   This is Donald Trump’s slogan for his current Presidential campaign.  You can usually see him with his customary red hat, emblazoned with these words as he travels all over the country.  It is his opinion that America used to be a great country, but now we are far removed from those halcyon days of yore.   Obviously, he is entitled to his opinion as an American citizen because this is a free country and free thought and opinion is valued here.

Recently, a young lady who works for Home Depot was photographed wearing a white hat with the words: “America Was Never Great,” and the picture and the story went viral.  Her patriotism was questioned, her character was besmirched and just for good measure, there were racist statements made about her due to her color. There were people that decided that they would no longer frequent that store because of the worker’s thinly veiled swipe at Trump’s slogan. Home Depot has stated that they did not allow their employees to make political statements with their clothing while on the job and have made strides to reinforce that rule.  

Any organization has to right to set the tone for their respective employees.  Based on the rules of the company, the young lady was in the wrong for wearing the hat.  Here’s the question however:  Despite the dress code rules, what is the difference in Trump’s hat and the individual from Home Depot?  We respect Mr. Trump’s opinion on his hat, but her hat troubles people beyond her choice to wear it to work.   Americans believe they live in the greatest country in the world.  This is good ole fashioned “Nationalism.”  There has been a narrative present for decades that “back in the good ole days”…”in a much simpler time”…things were golden and pure in the land.  This belies the notion that for some, America has not always been great.  In fact, there are many people that feel the exact same way as the lady from Home Depot….that it has never been great.

This is open for debate, but isn’t that what really sets this country apart?  The freedom to feel how you want to feel.  Express what you want to express.  Obviously, that freedom does not protect you from consequences from your employer, but the freedom is still there…in theory.  Do only certain people get to express their feelings about America? Why do certain individuals get to march and protest and call it the American way, while others are told to “love it or leave it?”  Does our respective attachment to Life Liberty and Happiness waver depending on how we look, who we love, or who we worship?  As we enter into a potentially “game-changing” election, we have to examine these questions.  We also have to acknowledge and accept that people can feel as if America has not opened its arms to them. Those individuals should be able to voice that opinion without being told to leave or that they aren’t American.

I will admit to feeling that I have not always felt that America has reciprocated my affection.  It is my right to feel that way.  It doesn’t make me less American…it in fact proves that I am.  Hat or no hat.

Ahmad Ward is the Vice President of Education and Exhibitions at BCRI