Macy Gray: The American flag needs to be redesigned as it no longer represents us

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It’s been a hot minute since we last heard from Macy Gray. Macy has a new band called Macy Gray and The California Jet Club. This past Juneteeth, Macy published an op-ed on Market Watch calling for an update to the U.S. flag. Macy believes that, like the Ole Dixie flag which was put to rest because it was dated and divisive, the current American flag has also outlived its sell by date. Macy pointed out that there should be 52 stars on the flag to represent D.C. and Puerto Rico’s push for statehood. She wants the stars to be several colors to reflect different skin tones. Below are a few highlights from Market Watch:

President Biden, Madame Harris and members of Congress: the American flag has been hijacked as code for a specific belief. God bless those believers, they can have it. Like the Confederate, it is tattered, dated, divisive, and incorrect. It no longer represents democracy and freedom. It no longer represents ALL of us. It’s not fair to be forced to honor it. It’s time for a new flag.

Incorrect? Let’s look to the stars. There are 50, where there should be 52. D.C. and Puerto Rico have been lobbying for statehood for decades. Both have been denied, since statehood would allow each territory’s elected officials seats in the house.

Assuming D.C. reps would be African-American and Puerto Rican reps would be Hispanic, the ultimate assumption is that these elected officials would be Democratic. That alone is racist.

On to the stripes. The Smithsonian documents that the “white” stripes represent purity and innocence. America is great. It is beautiful. Pure, it ain’t. It is broken and in pieces.

What if the stripes were OFF-white? What if there were 52 stars to include D.C. and Puerto Rico? What if the stars were the colors of ALL of us — your skin tone and mine — like the melanin scale? The blue square represents vigilance and perseverance; and the red stripes stand for valor. America is all of those things. So, what if those elements on the flag remained? What if the flag looked like this?

In 1959, 17-year-old Bob Heft designed the current flag for a school project when there were only 48 states. Hawaii and Alaska were up for statehood and Bob had a hunch they’d get the nod. He crafted a NEW flag with 50 stars for the then-future, because things had changed.

Sixty-two years later, in 2021, we have changed and it’s time for a reset, a transformation. One that represents all states and all of us.

[From Market Watch]

I actually agree with Macy about updating the design of the U.S. Flag. I didn’t know that the flag we wave today was created by a 17 year old back in 1959. That is fairly recent. We have an opportunity to create a new US identity where we cut ties to our colonial, racist, and misogynistic past. I am not keen on Macy’s design because off-white stripes and skin-tone stars sound like a chaotic mess but I think that the flag could reflect the U.S. melting pot somehow.

I am starting to see the flag the way that I see the Confederate flag – that it only stands for the freedom of choices for white people, specifically white men. I know this is the agenda of the far right but symbols are important because they are what grounds our mythology. My hope is that D.C. and Puerto Rico will get their statehoods. I also believe that D.C. and Puerto Rico have not been given their statehood because they are minority dominant districts. I hope that we either change the design of the current flag or redefine what it actually stands for. America should be able to grow and evolve as a nation.

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22 Responses to “Macy Gray: The American flag needs to be redesigned as it no longer represents us”

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  1. Abby says:

    I think redesigning the flag is one of the big reasons I have heard why people don’t want D.C. to become a state. That it would be expensive to get new flags. Which is such a dumb reason to keep D.C. from statehood. I agree with her that there’s the political element–republicans don’t want more democratic states.

    But also, I didn’t realize this version has only been in place since 1959. So for those reasons… I am with her–let’s redesign it to better reflect our country.

    I can think of so many people who would be apoplectic over this though. Is that the word? Incandescent with rage? It’s a flag. It needs to represent our country. It’s not immortally preserved in this present form.

    I worry she’s going to get completely dragged over this by the right though.

    • Just Me says:

      I live in the deep south. As of 2016 or so the American flag is on par with the confederate flag and the Trump flags. When I see any of the three I am weary. I am 100% for a redesign.

  2. Nanny to the Rescue says:

    In my country people routinely come up with ideas to redesign the flag, and it’s always a sh!tshow. The intentions are (mostly) good but you’ll never get people – even like-minded people – to agree on the new one and it will only breed more resentment in the end. So, if we can’t just get rid of these symbols entirely, I’m pro leaving stuff like flags and anthems and coats of arms etc. as they are, but give more time to explain their contexts.

  3. CHIMES@MIDNIGHT says:

    The flag was ‘redesigned’ in the sense that stars were added for Alaska and Hawaii, so the rows of stars shifted a bit. That’s all. What Macy is talking about is a far cry from jiggering around some stars.

  4. LaraK says:

    I think redesigning the flag is a BAD idea, and not because she is wrong.

    1. It will give republicans a talking point – “see, we redesigned the flag, we are not racist!” Basically it becomes an excuse to not do anything else, like healthcare reform, voting reform, or reparations.

    2. The money can be spent better elsewhere. Like healthcare, or reparations.

    I think right now we have to be careful what we push for to make real change. A new flag won’t feed or house anybody. It certainly won’t open any new black businesses, or support black farmers, or house black families.

    • CHIMES@MIDNIGHT says:

      Larak, YES. Leave the flag alone, let’s redesign the country.

    • Venus says:

      Plus, redesigning the flag because it’s currently being used by white supremacists cedes them the flag. What we should do is retake it for ourselves — fly it as is at Pride parades, BLM marches, pro-choice rallies, immigrant rights rallies … . The US flag is becoming a conservative symbol not because of anything inherent in the design, but because “patriotism” is seen as the purview of the Right. I think the Left needs to reclaim the symbolic representation of America.

      • Annaloo. says:

        I TOTALLY AGREE. This is my flag too, my country! My black and Asian arse is here, and not anywhere else. I do not see the flag as belonging to white men, it belongs to me also. My country has problems and it is evolving, but it is my home. I absolutely agree, redesign the country first. You can have your holidays and flag redesigns, I want a structural civic change from the roots. Til that has happened, a flag redesign is superficial and useless.

  5. DuchessL says:

    Idont know about this one. A flag that is loved is something that unites people. Changing it will divide the people and once you put in the idea that you dont have your flag/your country anymore, chaos will ensue. It’s an idea, but a bad one.

  6. Claire says:

    Erp. The U.S. flag was redesigned in 1959 because that is the year in which Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as the 49th and 50th States, respectively. Maybe I know that because I’m an Old, I paid attention in U.S. History class, they don’t teach it any more, or some combination thereof. Maybe I know it because my father was born in the Territory of Hawaii and was 28 when it was admitted as a State.

    Anyway, it wasn’t done because someone decided the flag needed a new look. Does it need a new look now? Maybe, I’m open to it.

    I’ll leave it to the residents of DC and PR to determine whether they want to be admitted as States (there are pros and cons). My thinking is yes to both. But putting that aside, having experience in both DC and PR, there can be very little doubt why that has been, and continues to be, an uphill battle.

    Oh whoops, Macy Gray is a kook and I love her, lol.

  7. Busybody says:

    We saw a pickup truck flying the US flag yesterday and my own (white, upper middle class, military brat) teenagers said something like, “you know you’re racist when…” Notice I said they are military brats and therefore no strangers to flags and the symbolism/historical significance of the flag. I agree with Macy that the US flag has come to symbolize racism in many contexts.

    • Anna says:

      Yup. White supremacy and white nationalism is what I think now though growing up elsewhere in military dictatorships with folks from a lot of different countries, I was always keenly aware of the tenuous nature of a flag and what is can represent. They’re not as rigid as we may think, as poster and comments mention. This current on is fairly “young”, as it were. I’m all for a re-design if only to include PR and DC. Figure it out design-wise.

  8. Marigold says:

    This is our flag. We need to reclaim it. Add the new stars. If liberals started using it, then it would lose its power for crazies conservatives.

  9. Daphne says:

    I lived in DC and worked in the USG. DC should absolutely not become a state because it would foster corruption and unfairly represent the political elite if it was given seats on the Hill.

    • BC says:

      Absolutely this. I just moved from there last year and agree. DC is a skewed cartoon of life and not representative of any other shape or form in the country.

  10. Annabel says:

    A flag represents what you believe it represents. I was raised by leftists in Canada. Everyone I knew saw the American flag as a symbol of militaristic aggression, and that conditioning was so strong that after 20 years of living in the United States, I still find the flag kind of jarring.

    I think a couple stars should be added, and also I agree with the other commenters saying that the left should reclaim it. Fly it high over gay pride parades and over AOC’s campaign rallies, and let the meaning change.

    • JanetDR says:

      I do like the idea of reclaiming it! I saw a truck all decked out the other day (probably from a Flag Day parade now that I think about it) but my reaction to the flags flying from every possible spot is …not good. Because it’s so often flown with the tRump or Don’t tread on Me flags there is a negative connotation that didn’t used to be there. And bring on the stars for DC and Puerto Rico!

  11. Shannon Brown says:

    I like Macy, but that’s a stupid idea. There is no need to change the flag. That’s not the CHANGE we need. I wish celebrities would stop focusing on tangential issues like changing the flag because that’s going to change absolutely nothing about America.

    • What happened to the flag representing the UNITED States of America? When did the flag declare a political party? I am saddened at what this country has become! I know it is not perfect. I know that there are many things that need to be changed. I also know that there is a better way to elicit change then thru violence! BE THE CHANGE! Be proactive! Violence is just creating anger all around for everyone! Not just one race, one color, one nationality. Not one thing has been accomplished by all of the violence in America. All I see from where I live is that “the other side” is now becoming angry and violent. How is this accomplishing anything?

  12. Imara219 says:

    Why do we keep doing things that no one asked for? This country has been racist since its inception, so has Britain, France, etc. By this logic, all national flags should be changed. America is a racist AF country with a lot of beautiful principles. I want this nation to live up to its own hype. I want this country to live out its motto. I don’t care about a flag re-design. I care about Anti-Black Hate bills, redlining, Voter suppression, CRT hate, imbalance and inequities in schools, etc. Let’s focus on that, please.

  13. kukukachoo says:

    Today I learned that Macy Gray is American. I thought she was British.

  14. Natasha says:

    Don’t touch my flag!