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Macy Gray: It’s Time for a New American Flag

Macy Gray, the Grammy-winning R&B singer, wrote that the American flag needs a redesign “that all of us can honor” in an op-ed published by MarketWatch in tribute to Juneteenth, a federal holiday recognizing the end of slavery in the U.S. The essay trended on social media as conservative critics completely missed her point.   

Gray’s succinct essay argued that while the battle flag of the Confederacy, “which was crafted as a symbol of opposition to the abolishment of slavery,” might be scarce these days, the Stars and Stripes effectively fills its void. (She is not the first to make this observation.) She pointed out that the flag was a visible symbol for the insurgents who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. 

Addressing her Juneteenth-timed note to “President Biden, Madam Harris, and members of Congress,” she wrote that the current flag of the United States of America is “tattered, dated, divisive, and incorrect” and “no longer represents democracy and freedom.”

The popular recording artist also dug into the semiotics of the Stars and Stripes. Regarding the stars, she wrote, “there are 50, where there should be 52” as “D.C. and Puerto Rico have been lobbying for statehood for decades.” Proper representation for them would mean more empowerment for Black and Latinx Americans, she suggested. 

The white stripes, on the other hand, “represent purity and innocence,” she wrote, citing the Smithsonian. “America is great. It is beautiful. Pure, it ain’t. It is broken and in pieces,” Gray observed.

Gray, whose 1999 debut album On How Life Is went triple platinum, presented solutions along with her criticism. She noted that a new flag could have 52 stars of varying shades (“your skin tone and mine”), stripes that were off-white, a blue square representing perseverance, and red stripes for valor because, as she patriotically put it, “America is all of those things.” (Here’s the mock-up.)

She reminded readers that the current American flag—though frequently an unwitting participant in bizarre photo-ops from our previous president—was not exactly handed down from Sinai as it looks today. There have been 27 different versions over the years and the most recent was adopted on July 4, 1960, a mere seven years or so before Gray was born in Canton, Ohio.

Gray’s essay went seemingly unread by outrage-merchants online, but many found time to bark about it anyway. Others, however, bothered to click the link and give it due consideration: 

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Source: Macy Gray: It’s Time for a New American Flag

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