Okay, quick thought experiment: what do you envision when someone says "'patriot' in an American flag shirt"? If you're like me, you probably picture someone like this.
Maybe you think of people who say the Parkland activists are actors; who tell black and brown people to go home; who say kneeling to protest police brutality is disrespectful to the flag. Maybe "guy in an American flag shirt" conjures up that mean, angry old white dude who punched a peaceful black man trying to peacefully make his way out of a Trump rally.
I imagine those types of people too, and that's heartbreaking. Because the American flag shouldn't stand for hate and intolerance.
So two years ago I decided to design an American flag shirt for the rest of us. One that would reclaim the flag for what Michelle Obama once called "our national virtues."
Love. Compassion. Kindness. Hope. Generosity. Justice. Peace. Diversity. Equality. Fairness. Determination. Tolerance. Grit. Tenacity. Honor. Heart. Community. Resilience. Empathy. Unity. Understanding. Freedom. Honesty. Inclusivity. Pride. Passion. Vision. Wisdom. Integrity. Acceptance.
"Friends, I think for some of us, 4th of July can be conflicting. Yeah, we want to dress up in flag gear and celebrate our country for all its wonders, but maybe the people you see waving the flag around or wearing flag shirts are not necessarily proud of the same things that you are.
So here's what I want to try to do: I want to try to make an American flag design where the stripes are comprised of words like compassion, understanding, justice, equality, liberty, love, etc. To show the American flag as a symbol of the things that we do love and should love about this country. It's an ambitious design idea and I don't know if I can pull it off but I feel like we all could kind of use this perspective on America right now and I'd like to try.
So... I could really use your help with words of love for America!"
That was BEFORE Donald Trump became president. Today, we need this shirt, this reminder, more than ever. Because while there is so much rotten going on in America right now, and hence so much conflict over the flag that symbolizes our great nation, there is more than that.
My friends remembered the love of Martin Luther King, Jr. They remembered Obama’s hope. Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates’ generosity.
They remembered that we are a nation of everyday kindness, of compassion. We’re Hamilton’s grit and determination; Washington’s honor; the pride of millions of LGBTQ folks. We are tolerance and acceptance.
My friends could still still see the deep, great, amazing heart of America, the heart of understanding and freedom and fairness and justice and peace.
Their words came together in a gorgeous celebration of our deepest values as Americans, forming a flag we can all be proud of. A flag that shows that despite the current ramshackle state of our national integrity and morality, America has good bones. It is a country where love will overcome hate in the end. Our country was designed that way, and our shirt was too. We named the t-shirt design "America the Wonderful."
Surprisingly or not, it made people a few people mad. Our flag includes words like “pride” and “inclusivity” and “tolerance” and “acceptance.” And those words, they aren’t so popular with everyone right now. Even on this blog post, note the comment below from Eric (who, despite his claim of having shopped with us previously, is not in our order database) labeling us "race baiting fascist left".
People like Eric go to great efforts to say hateful things about our positive shirt. Why? Some people want brown people out of our country. They want to go so far as to build a wall to keep them on their side of the border. But we’ll fight for our fellow humans who want a new life, and for our LGBTQ friends, and for children who just want to be safe in school. We’re on your side. We have your backs. We believe in a different America.
We need to wear our love like a breastplate, our justice like armor. Because love is what will prevail. When hate is loud, love must not be silent. We will spring up in our love, hundreds and thousands and millions of us, all of who will say no more, and our love will win the day.
Love, love, love is what will take back our country.
And in the meantime, we’ve taken back our flag.