+
upworthy
Democracy

Powerful photo series explores Black Americans' complex relationship with the flag

Powerful photo series explores Black Americans' complex relationship with the flag
Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

The American flag has been a symbol of the United States for centuries, but what the U.S.—and thus the flag it represents—has meant to different Americans throughout that time has varied greatly.

Imagine looking at the flag of a country that enslaved you ancestors, generation after generation after generation. Imagine looking at the flag of a country that pushed you and your family off your land and broke every promise it made to your people. Imagine looking at the flag of a country where people who look like you have never truly been free in the way other Americans are.

When your country has repeatedly disappointed, failed, or actively harmed people who look like you, how do you find pride and hope in its symbol?


That's a question explored by two female artists—one Black and one white—in a new photo series, "A New America," which "explores the complicated relationship of African Americans and the American flag." Actress and activist Jameelah Nuriddin served as a model while artist Erin Hammond took photos of her in front of a giant American flag that's more than 100 years old.

Nuriddin explains what inspired the project:

"As a black woman, I've always had a strained relationship with the American flag. If I saw a white person with a huge American flag, I would immediately look around for the Confederate flag or wonder how they would treat me. It's as though extreme patriotism was synonymous with racism.
It changed for me when I listened to the podcast 1619 by the NY Times; in the first episode, Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks about how her father used to always fly the flag in their yard. She reveals how black people are the great perfecters of the Constitution—I've also heard it described that Black people are the conscious of America. My relationship with the flag changed. Instead of seeing oppression and hypocrisy when I look at it, I see my ancestors who built this country. Literally. My lineage comes from Georgia and Alabama. It occurs to me that I am not a stranger in a strange land, but that this is MY country just as much as the racist hick—in some ways even more so. I can fight for it, and reclaim it—in the full glory of what it was meant to be."

In the 8-photo series, Nuriddin combines pledge of allegiance and Black power poses—"The two aren't at odds, but are one," says Nuriddin. And the photos are accompanied by a manifesto, written by Nuriddin, that mirrors the Preamble to the Constitution.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We, the people, are creating a world where every woman, man, and non-binary human being is met with dignity and respect. We have learned from the mistakes of our forefathers and are building a new America rooted in the complete and total liberation, support and growth of all people ...

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

... We cease to subjugate black and brown people, whose ancestors built this country and instead uplift, honor and make amends for injustice ...

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We need to give Lady Justice back her eyes.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

...Envision a world where all humans are free and equal—where we prize each other over material things—we stand against tyranny and oppression, hatred and fear.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We honor the past and learn from those that have come before. We respect the future and leave this world better than we found it. All spiritual and religious doctrines center on one fact—treat each other as we are one. See your siblings on this earth as interconnected.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We, the people, envision a world of true liberation. Where the value of a person's life is not placed on how much they own, but how deeply they love...

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

We believe respect and dignity are the birthright of every human being.

In this new America, there is nothing more Un-American than racism. We are divesting hatred, fear, and discrimination from the American Flag—holding it up in a new light that fully realizes and expresses the goals and beliefs written in the Constitution—that all people are created equal.

Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

This is our America. We unite, let the hypocrisy fade into the past, and transcend together to finally fully actualize the words of freedom in the Constitution, in totality.

Nuriddin says, "If Black people can reclaim the n-word, we can reclaim the American flag. It doesn't have to be a symbol of hypocrisy and oppression...this is our America too, we can guide this country to fully realize its dream of equality and freedom for all."

"Our need to rise up and support Black lives in all facets is embarrassingly long overdue," adds Hammond, "and I strongly believe we can change this country. It will take perseverance and standing together and getting really uncomfortable at times, but every second of every day we can make movement towards real change and create a New America. Teaming up to bring Jameelah's vision to life was deeply fulfilling. This type of allyship is beautiful and is part of the world that Jameelah and I are fighting for."

The photo series can be viewed on Instagram at @jameelahcreates and @erinhammondart.

Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.

Keep ReadingShow less

Millenial names are now "old" names.

You can’t turn back the hands of time and so it’s impossible to avoid being labeled “old” by younger generations, no matter how hard you try. For many of us, our names are tied to the times when we were born and can start to sound really dated, no matter how fashionable they were at one point.

TikTokker Amber Cimotti found this out the hard way when her daughter noted that she has an “old” person's name.

“My daughter told me the name Ashley or Amanda — or my name is Amber — are like old people names and I never thought about it this way,” Amber explained in a video with over 3 million views.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Imgur

Memories of testing like this gets people fired up.

It doesn't take much to cause everyone on the internet to go a little crazy, so it's not completely surprising that an incorrect answer on a child's math test is the latest event to get people fired up.

The test in question asked kids to solve "5 x 3" using repeated addition. Under this method, the correct answer is "5 groups of 3," not "3 groups of 5." The question is typical of Common Core but has many questioning this type of standardized testing and how it affects learning.

Keep ReadingShow less

Woman shows her misbehaving cat to 'the trenches'

You always hear about a "bad dog," giving the furry goofballs a reputation for getting into mischief, but what about bad cats. Not all cats are angels just lounging around the house until someone gives them food while fanning them with a giant palm leaf. Some cats have a sketchy "catigree" and every once in a while they let that wild streak show. When that happens, what is a cat owner to do?

A cat mom that goes by the user name Lambo Licia on Instagram posted a video showing exactly how she gets her cat in line when he's misbehaving. No, it's not with a spray bottle. She shows him what life is like in "the trenches." You know, the area of town where homeless cats roam and cat burglars have real whiskers and thumbs that don't work, leaving a strange fish smell wherever they lurk.

If Scared Straight: Cat Edition was an actual thing, Mega, the orange tabby would be the first to turn his life around. He looks absolutely petrified from all of the unruly cat behavior he sees out the window and his mom's commentary.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

College students use AI to decode ancient scroll burned in Mount Vesuvius

“Some of these texts could completely rewrite the history of key periods of the ancient world."

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E., it buried entire cities in volcanic materials. While Pompeii is the most famous site affected by the natural disaster, the nearby villa of Herculaneum was also laid to waste—including over 800 precious scrolls found inside Herculaneum’s library, which were carbonized by the heat, making them impossible to open and recover their contents.

Which brings us to the Vesuvius challenge, started by computer scientist Brent Seales and entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross in March 2023. The contest would award $1 million in prizes to whoever could use machine learning to successfully read from the scrolls without damaging them.

On February 5, the prize-winning team was announced.
Keep ReadingShow less
Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Shaquille O'Neal retired from pro basketball in 2011, but he's still one of the most famous players ever.

Fame comes with a lot of challenges, but it also comes with some pretty obvious perks. There's the money that frequently follows fame, of course, but there's also the special treatment people automatically offer you.

Some famous folks might revel in that special treatment and some might even express gratitude for it. But occasionally, you find a celebrity who refuses it altogether.

Take basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal, for instance.

Keep ReadingShow less