A Brief History of Colonialism 2022
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The early design for the flag of the United States—conformant to the Flag Act of 1777 passed early in the American Revolutionary War, which specified 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and 13 white stars in a blue canton—is believed to be designed by a woman named Betsy Ross around the height of the American Revolution in the mid-to-late 1770s, leading to its nickname, Betsy Ross Flag. However, the true history of how the flag came to be remains controversial. Although for some the Betsy Ross flag is just a reminder of the country's history, its origin is inevitably steeped in a time period when America was a slavery-driven and openly racist country. The values of that era persist within American culture to this day, with white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan using the Betsy Ross Flag in its propaganda, while some KKK groups in Georgia were also found to have required members use the Betsy Ross Flag during ritualistic meetings in more recent times.

While the flag initially featured 13 stars to represent the 13 colonies on the East Coast of the continent. Later, when the colonists won independence, these colonies became the 13 original states. The flag has since been updated 27 times over the years to include new states added into the union. The flag presently on display across the United States was introduced after Hawaii became the 50th state in August 1959. Puerto Rico—a colonial possession of the United States—is often mentioned as a potential 51st state. While Puerto Ricans were afforded U.S. citizenship in the first half of the twentieth century, the fundamental problem of the island’s colonial status persists. Over a hundred years have passed since its forced annexation, yet Puerto Rico remains in a legal limbo of inequality and disenfranchisement relative to the rest of the U.S. polity. Although the conditions of U.S. colonial control over the unincorporated territory have changed in both name and nature, Puerto Rico lacks even "a modicum of sovereign independence from the federal government" and continues to be entirely a "creation of Congress," which retains plenary power over [it].* As a territory perpetually relegated to an extra-constitutional realm, Puerto Rico remains without a path to either statehood or independence. Just as a rose by any other name would not change its scent, calling Puerto Rico a sovereign but unincorporated state does not change the nature of its legal status: a colony in everything but name.

*130 Harv. L. Rev. 1632 Harvard Law Review April 2017 Developments in the Law The U.S. Territories. Chapter One. Territorial Federalism.


Portions of this text were taken from the following sources:
1. A Colony Is a Colony Is a Colony: Puerto Rico and the Courts by Luna Martinez, Center for Constitutional Rights, October 20, 2021.
2. Former Klansman reveals secret information on KKK by Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald, December 6, 2013.
3. Is the Betsy Ross Flag Racist? Meaning, History and Symbolism Behind U.S.A.'s 13-Star Flag by Janice Williams, Newsweek, July 2, 2019.
4. Why Is Everyone So Upset About the Betsy Ross Flag? by EJ Dickson, Rolling Stone, July 2, 2019.
5. Nike Pulls Shoes Featuring Betsy Ross Flag Over Concerns About Racist Symbolism by Bill Chapell, NPR, July 2, 2019.
6. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Britannica, 2022