Dear Cindy McCain,

It’s one thing for a potential first lady to say, I’ve always loved my country,” but quite another for her to maintain – as you continue to do – that “I’ve always been proud of my country.” The ‘always-proud-of-my-country’ part needs to be reconsidered. Here’s why:

Most of us can relate to a ‘right-or-wrong-this-is-my-country stance.’ That’s akin to the unwavering love most parents show their children even when they embarrass the heck-out of them, fall short of a goal or stumble in any way. But loving them doesn’t necessarily mean we’re proud of their missteps or flaws. Nor should we be proud of the racial bias, brutality and other injustices made by our country. I am among many African Americans who love their country, but I am not very proud of the early chapters of its history.

Cases in point:
(1) In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a Louisiana law mandating separate but equal accommodations for blacks and whites on intrastate railroads was constitutional. That decision provided the legal foundation to justify many other actions by state and local governments to separate blacks and whites. It barred blacks from public facilities, white schools, churches and even cemeteries. It kept many young black scholars out of top colleges, thus robbing them of the opportunity to pursue careers in law, medicine and business. It kept them out of the mainstream job market.

(2) In World Wars I and II, blacks were called upon to serve – and die if necessary – for a country that wouldn’t provide them with the same care, housing and equipment that it gave white soldiers.

(3) During the midst of the Civil Rights Era in the 1960s, our country stood for too long on the sidelines watching southern law enforcement officers, at times with dogs on leashes, wade into blacks flailing nightsticks with murderous intent.

The list of injustices endured by African-Americans is quite long, and I assure you that there are millions of blacks – and whites – who do not look back with pride on those troubling years of life in America. Neither should you or any other thoughtful, freedom-loving American citizen. Think about it.

Respectfully yours,

Doug Smith.