I fantasize about leaving the United States on a not-so-infrequent basis. I think about what it would be like to move to Japan, to be among my people. Or even to just move up to Canada.

But then I ground myself back in reality. I ground myself in the history of struggle that my parents endured to raise me and my sister here in an increasingly inhospitable place. I imagine the decades of misunderstood conversations; the outright racist remarks; the blood, sweat and tears of running a business.

I am a child of this country. I was born here, raised here, have cried, laughed, yelled, fought here. 

So when I see narrow-minded, hate-filled people who actively seek to destroy the most marginalized people in our community calling themselves “patriots,” it pisses me off.

About a day ago, I was tagged in a Facebook post about a local business called Patriot Candle Co. that sells candles and other custom-made gear in the area. The issue wasn’t the name of the business, it was the fact that they sold reprehensible products on their website and they had a stand at the state-owned Piedmont Triad Farmers Market.

I won’t describe the stuff they sell because it’s outright offensive, but it targeted immigrants and the trans community to name just two. According to the manager of the market, Daniel Johnson, the vendor is no longer allowed to sell at the market after multiple complaints were filed.

“Their privilege to be a vendor here has been permanently revoked,” Johnson said on Tuesday.

The vendor and others who align with their hateful views will call this move by the market “silencing” and part of the “woke agenda.”

But I’m here to tell them that we are the patriots of this country and that we belong here.

Some of us are here because we were born here after our parents came seeking a better life for us. Others are here because they were forcefully removed from their homes and brought here. Still others have always been here and continue to fight for reclamation of their home. We don’t have to fly flags to be patriots.

Because as flawed as America is, has been and will continue to be, it is ours, not just yours.

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