Patriotism and Black Internationalism

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On February 2, 2023, Ilhan Omar took to the floor of the House of Representatives to address what being an American meant to her. Responding to Republican efforts to remove her from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the representative for Minnesota's fifth congressional district asked, "Who gets to be an American? What opinions do you have to have to be counted as American?"1 In attacking Omar for her past comments on Israel and track record of criticizing U.S. foreign policy, House Republicans were conflating progressive politics with foreignness, arguing that this combination is subversive and represents a real threat to the American government and the stability of the nation.2 Indeed, the vote to remove Omar came just a few years after President Donald J. Trump had implored Omar and her progressive allies in "The Squad"- House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib - to "go back"to the "crime infested places from which they came."3 Acknowledging how her race and identity were once again being used by Republicans to question her Americanness and delegitimize her politics, Omar offered the following rebuttal: Representation matters. Continuing to expand our ideas of who is American and who can partake in the American experiment is a good thing. I am an American ... Someone who knows what it means to have a shot at a better life here in the United States. And someone who believes in the American dream, in the American possibility and the promise, and the ability to voice that in a democratic process.4

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-340
Number of pages19
JournalModern American History
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Black Internationalism
  • Anticommunism
  • Patriotism
  • Robeson
  • Cold War
  • Black Freedom Struggle
  • Empire and Imperialism
  • Civil Rights
  • Citizenship
  • African American

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