June 19, 2021

The Juneteenth flag.

Are you flying the Juneteenth flag? Is it this flag? 


I had a real-life conversation yesterday about flying flags other than the American flag.  If you fly an American flag in front of your house — as we do — do you think that you must always fly that flag and no other flag, that you're interfering with your usual message —or even unpatriotic — if you swap in a different flag some days?

In my neighborhood, which gets parked up on game days — we could get a $20 bill for letting somebody park their car in our driveway — many people put up a motion W or Bucky Badger flag when the team is playing. This month, "Pride" month, I'm seeing some rainbow flags and that complicated beyond-the-rainbow flag (now, with even more inclusivity).

I was saying I'd like to have rainbow flag for June, but that would mean taking the American flag down for an entire month. (I reject the 2-flag solution.) But what about Juneteenth? It's only one day. That makes it more flaggable to those who generally fly the American flag. (And I'll just set to the side the problem of Juneteenth interrupting the gender focus of the month of June, or, to put it another way, the problem of the gender interests having chosen the month that already contained the race-based celebration of Juneteenth).

We can all celebrate Juneteenth. No one objects to the abolition of slavery. (Yes, you can broaden the concept to include all the vestiges of U.S. slavery and slavery everywhere in the world, but people will still readily agree that's all bad, even if they're not going to do anything about it.) 

So: How to celebrate? You could fly a Juneteenth flag. When I think about doing that, I care about what the flag looks like, and I can see that the flag in that video is designed to make it easy for average Americans to see conventional American values. I'm just seeing that flag for the first time this morning. When we were talking about it yesterday, I was picturing this flag:

That's a more challenging flag! But that is not the Juneteenth flag!

That's the Pan-African flag, adopted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) at a conference in New York City in 1920. The UNIA drafted and adopted the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World on August 13, 1920 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. It included the declaration that red, black and green (or RBG) be the colors signifying the African race.

That flag has a long history, and I think it's a great looking flag. It's better-looking than the official Juneteenth flag, which — I've got to say — makes me think of Canada. So fly whichever flag you want today or any day or fly no flag at all. It's a free country. Celebrate freedom freely.


Ann Althouse said...

Ken B writes:

"The legislature of Upper Canada outlawed slavery in 1793, but since we had limited legislative autonomy there were actually a few slaves allowed until around 1825. Complete de jure abolition came from Westminster in 1833. Our flag then was the Union Jack."

Ann Althouse said...

From the Desk of Colonel Mustard writes:

That Pan African Flag is ridiculous. Hilarious if you happen to be an actual “racist”.

Why? It almost screams “watermelon” – green and red and full of little black seeds. Not an acceptable image for “Blackness”. If I opened a t-shirt shop featuring this design as representative of Africans, it would likely be burned to the ground and the perps would walk and I’d be charged with some kind of “hate crime”.

Calling it "ridiculous" should get you in trouble though, so....

Ann Althouse said...

Tom writes:

The whole creation of "Juneteenth" seems to me to not be about commemorating "the day slavery ended" - according to such oppressed minorities as LeBron James ($39 million/yr) and star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins ($27.25 million/yr), slavery still exists and they are its current victims - but instead to ensure that no white person, particularly Lincoln, gets credit for playing any role in the abolition of the practice - hence the passive "the day slavery ended" language used by Google, as though Slavery the institution decided one day to cease to exist all on its own, with no human intervention.

Having said that, I think the country would be far better off if we did celebrate emancipation day as a big step forward for both blacks and whites in this country, an acknowledgement of the practice and a celebration of Americans having banded together to bring it to an end.

I think we should all take Juneteenth in the most positive possible way.

Ann Althouse said...

Mike Petrik writes:

"I fly Old Glory all year, except for special occasions when I temporarily replace it with another flag. Yesterday, I replaced it with a Juneteenth flag. Did the same thing last year. I believe the end of American slavery is worth celebrating and refuse to allow BLM radicals to own the holiday. I also fly the Thin Blue Line flag during National Police Week."

Ann Althouse said...

Brian writes:

You could put a flag underneath the US flag? This would seem an appropriate place for the Juneteenth flag. It was THAT FLAG that freed the slaves.

I hadn't thought about juneteenth flags before... But now I'm thinking that *i* should be flying the
38th Iowa Infantry Regiment flag; which was my Great Great grandfather's unit. They ended the war IN Texas, so had a lot to do with it.

Ann Althouse said...

ed writes:

We have the Stars and Stripes, and I've never considered displaying anything else.
(I have a modern Confederate Battle Flag too, stashed somewhere--probably
from my Uncle Jimmy.)

Some people have, over the decades, altered the design of the Confederate Battle Flag
( X ) with Pan-African colors--from very different motives and with very different
aims. Google crwflags or Nu South for examples.

Ann Althouse said...

Chris writes:

We are not frequent flag fliers, but when we do, it is the American flag or the rainbow flag. I have a special attachment for the old 48-star flag too, though I don’t own one. Of the eleven federal holidays, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving resonate most with me.

I have no objection to Juneteenth, but neither do I have an investment in it. Like MLK day, it seems like a day designed for someone else. If celebrating the day makes someone happy, then good for them. I’m all for the pursuit of happiness.

Ann Althouse said...

Tim writes:

I like the flag. We should also use them to decorate the graves of our forebears like my great grandfather, who served in the Union Army and for all the Civil War memorials -- Union side as a celebration --- Confederate side as a reminder that we can reinterpret those beautiful old monuments with a modern meaning and celebrate the emancipation together as a nation. Somebody should get right on making little flags to put beside grave markers for next year.

If it weren't for the additional time off for government workers, meaning they will have to hire more as a simple matter of math, I would say that this holiday is an unalloyed good thing. It's long overdue.

Ann Althouse said...

Sydney writes:

"Our neighbor likes to fly historical US flags. This is my favorite: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serapis_flag"

Ann Althouse said...

Iain writes:

I like the official Juneteenth flag. It's clean and simple, and the symbolism is reasonably clear. I think I'll add one to my collection.

Like you, I never really liked the two flag presentation, with two flags on one rope. I see lots of people do this, frequently flying a state flag or POW flag or something beneath the stars and stripes. Nothing wrong with that, except that it's not a clean look. It's very wrong, though, to put the flag of a second country on the same rope below the US flag (or any other national flag) because it indicates subordination. A definite no-no, except, I think, in wartime. Unfortunately a lot of flag fliers don't seem to know this.

I solved the two-flag problem with a yard arm, allowing me to fly three flags at once and indulge most of my flag whims. Old Glory flies from the main pole and whatever else I want to say flies on the yard arm. I tend to select those flags in combinations based on their various national days or other holidays: St Andrew's day gets Scotland and Romania, ANZAC day gets Australia and New Zealand, June 24th gets the Scottish Lion Rampant and Quebec, and so forth. Not sure what to pair the Juneteenth flag with, but I guess I have a year to figure that out.

Ann Althouse said...

ALP writes:

The flag thing. We are not 'flag people'. One of the benefits of a house on a flag lot and being well off the road - no pressure to display anything because no one would see it. HA - pun intended, did you catch that....flag lot, no flags.... we are a poor excuse for a flag lot...(I am here all weekend folks). We have Rising Sun flags from Japan lying about, plus the U.S. flag my partner received at his dad's funeral (Vietnam vet, career Army). But no flags have been flown at our abode.

Growing up in New York state in predominately Italian-American neighborhoods, there were suburban housing developments that flew the U.S. and the Italian flag - resulting in a lot of controversy. The area I lived in saw many low level Mafia shootings, executions (back of the head with a Tommy gun and left in a motel) and a bombing campaign (Google "Columbus Day Bombing, Rochester). Much talk about the wealthy Ragu family that lived in the area.

Maybe that is why I find flags a bit...combative and rather tribal. Divisive. The word "flag" conjures up images of war, gaining territory through force and planting your symbol on the bodies of your enemies. Too many things pushing us apart into ever smaller tribes. I think I'll pass on the flag thing.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff writes:

Kinda perfect that the "bursting outline" around the star is "inspired by a nova." They're just dead wrong that a nova is a "new star," it's actually the cataclysmic destruction of (generally) two stars, when a white dwarf (!) star comes too close to its twin, triggering runaway fusion. Where are they getting their "science"? Vesuvius would make a better example of nature's renewal! But it winds up being an awkward but apt metaphor for the racialist shenanigans coming to define the United States in the early 21st Century.