Representative Burgess Owens (R-UT), a retired safety for the New York Jets, made some remarks during his first day on the House Judiciary Committee that would make anyone outside of the Trump Klan cringe.

He argued that the pledge of allegiance should be recited at the start of each session, adding that the American flag is the best thing in the history of mankind. “We have guys making $50 million today, to play any position they want to, but won’t stand for the flag because they are taught by adults to not love our nation,” he said. “It’s not about words, it’s about actions. 15 seconds to show our kids that we’re adults. That we can agree to disagree. That we love our country enough to at least stand and represent our flag.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) fired back at Owens, questioning if he really believed everything that he was saying. Jeffries said that if we can all “agree to disagree,” then why did he vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election? If the results stated that Biden was clearly the winner, why overturn the elections? Jeffries also questioned Owens for supporting the January 6 insurrection that left six people dead, including a U.S. Capitol police officer. 

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If this country is as great as Owens believes it to be, why did Americans feel the need to invoke violence on members of Congress who were just doing their jobs? Why try to overthrow the government simply because they didn’t get their way? The American people voted, and they voted for President Joe Biden to lead this nation. Whether you agree with that or not, you have to accept it. Owens and the rest of Trump’s followers, however, just couldn’t do that. Owens is a part of the problem, and hold some of the blame for why this county is divided. Thank goodness Owens’s proposal to say the pledge of allegiance at the start of each session was quickly shot down.

In 2020, Trump supporters, including Black MAGA believers, made it clear that they believed anyone who protested the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in the middle of a pandemic was out of their minds. They couldn’t see that for years, Black America was tired of being forced to watch unarmed African Americans die at the hands of former and current police officers without facing justice.

Ever since George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin in 2013, many Black Americans have been angry, heartbroken and frustrated. Last year, protesters sought change and demanded police reform across the nation.

NEW YORK, USA – SEPTEMBER 3: Anti-racism demonstrators gathered at Times Square to protest police brutality in New York City, United States on September 3, 2020. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Protesting police brutality is somehow over the top in the eyes of critics, but those same critics turned around and were able to commit and/or excuse a heinous crime at the Capitol, one that could’ve resulted in the deaths of lawmakers. All of this was done in the name of overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Owens tried to lecture everyone during the hearing about why America is better than it was in the 1960’s, and said that everyone should want to say the pledge of allegiance. He said we now see “Black police officers, Black mayors, you know as we have more and more freedom to achieve our dreams…” Owens apparently fails to recognize that more representation in office means does not mean that the country’s racist systems have been repaired. Someone needs to tell Owens that it doesn’t work that way. 

For eight years this country had Barack Obama, its first Black president, but we continued to witness Black people killed at an alarming rate by police nationwide. Having Black representation isn’t enough. Real policy change needs to be implemented in order to undo damages created centuries ago.

It’s unfortunate that folks like Owens make it hard for the Black community to unite. They are somehow blinded to the realities that Black people face every day. People like Owens constantly find ways to diminish those realities based on their own unique, personal experiences. Until real change is made, why would anyone want to stand and pledge allegiance to a flag representing a country that doesn’t value their lives? 

The saddest part is that Owens is in a position to change policies and to ultimately help BIPOC thrive. If people like Owens continue to exist, those fighting for change on behalf of Black lives will continue to face resistance from naysayers. Even worse, Owens’s statements will provide fuel for anyone who is actively fighting against true racial equity in the United States. They don’t understand that, although Owens is Black, he doesn’t speak for Black people. Instead, he is a tool for sewing division and for justifying racism. His allegiance isn’t just to the flag. It’s also to the corrupt system that birthed and brainwashed him.

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