The orange hue of June

As we prepare to say goodbye to June, it’s worth tying up a few historic threads that got tangled up in this first month of summer. This is the high status that most of us associate primarily with June, despite the abstract and obscure authority that somehow permeates these particular 30 days with a multitude of other meanings.

For example, June is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual pride month. More commonly called by the abbreviation LGBTQIA, this acronym currently records nearly 27 percent of the entire alphabet.

Or, next President Obama’s 2009 Update of the old “Black Music Month” created by President Carter in 1979, June serves as “African American Music Appreciation Month” – celebrating the legacy of those who “raised their voices to the heavens through spiritualities” amid the injustice of slavery – while simultaneously providing the perfect backdrop to last week’s institution of Juneteenth new federal holiday in 38 years.

And, right after Albany’s deadliest month (there was six gunshot homicides in May alone), June is also Gun Violence Awareness Month. Which brings me to a call from an Albany city councilor last January to change the Albany flag.

Stay with me.

Back in the heady days of a brand new New Year – before the siege of the Capitol and an inadvertent blockade of Suez, before the impeachment and inauguration shows, before the death of a king (Larry) and a prince (Phillip), before Kim Kanye’s divorce and the vaccine finally freed us to expose the bottom third of our faces – City Councilor Owusu Anane introduced a resolution to consider whether the New York capital should continue to sport a flag whose original inspiration was adopted by the Nazis (who, to say the least, spoil everything).

Anane appeared to be a cause championed by Adam Aleksic, whose online petition to advocates the redesign of the current Albany city flag, which was first introduced in 1909 as part of Albany’s tercentenary celebration of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river that bore his name.

The design of the flag was intended to mimic the so-called “Prince’s Flag” (of Prince William of Orange) flown by the Dutch East India Company for which Hudson sailed in 1609. With a gaze turned to the Historically, Albany adopted the orange-white-tricolor blue horizontal, relating the logo of the Dutch East India Company to the city’s coat of arms.

And that might not have been problematic if Albany’s coat of arms – adopted in 1789 – didn’t look like it was designed by a xenophobic third-grader using clip art from Microsoft Windows 95.

“Vexillologists (flag experts) have five rules of good design,” Aleksic wrote in a letter to Times Union at the end of last year. “A flag should be simple, use no more than three basic colors, contain no lettering or seal, have meaningful symbolism, and stand out from other flags.” The Albany flag fails in all respects.

To his credit, Aleksic accompanied his critique of the Albany flag with a design proposal for a new one, and urged the Albanites to “make a bold change and choose to promote unity and community instead of this horror. unknown and intolerant “. (To his credit, he used the word ‘horror’, which now gives me an unmissable opportunity to state that Evan Blum should be ashamed of his cynicism. abuse of legal process to prevent action on the central warehouse.)

Even in the absence of the coat of arms squarely centered on the Albany flag, the prince’s tricolor has the awkward distinction of having been: the colors of the Dutch East India Company trading slaves; a backdrop for the Dutch Nazi Party in the 1930s; the basic flag design for 20th century South Africa apartheid era government; and the current model of choice for white supremacists around the world. Oops. Where’s that cartoon-style sweat collar emoji when you need it?

When you add that coat of arms, things get downright uncomfortable. That’s why Aleksic and Anane aren’t the only ones who hate the centerpiece of Albany’s Seal. Indeed, the Mayor of Albany, Kathy Sheehan, has already stopped using the Albany seal on official letters and documents, unless required by law.

What force of law could so force him to do so? How about the fact that the design of the coat of arms of the seal is inscribed in § 15-1 of the charter of the city of Albany, who rather embarrassingly describes the dude on the right as “an American Indian, a real savage”. Sip; sweater collar.

No wonder Aleksic calls the Albany flag “a racist and ill-conceived symbol which does not arouse the pride of our residents”. And, while it may be unreasonable to expect every quarter-millennium-old art project to age perfectly, it is also unreasonable to wait another 250 years before acting. I mean, it’s not the central warehouse in Albany, is it? (Ba-ZINGA!)

While tackling the design of the Albany coat of arms can be more legally daunting, replacing the Albany flag does not need to be. I already mentioned the Aleksic flag design project, which you can see on It’s sleek, simple, and elegant – how exactly would you describe Albany if you had spent three straight hours drinking with a goal at Fort Orange Brewing on North Pearl Street.

Why the free trade rider? Because Fort Orange Brewing’s namesake antecedent provides inspiration for a new Albany flag that might even be superior to Aleksic’s proposal.

In 1624 – exactly 40 years before it was renamed Fort Albany – Fort Orange emerged in the middle of Mohican territory as the first permanent Dutch settlement of New Holland. It was named in honor of the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau, from which Prince William of Orange came just decades before the outbreak of the Dutch revolt against the Spaniards.

And when the English took control of the fort in 1664, they inherited a simple concept for that capital’s future flag – ruthless evidence, right there in the name.

Because what if the Albany flag was only orange?

It’s scandalous !You yell, because change is scary and it’s fun to be loud.

Think about it. The simplicity of solid orange would make our flag a unique definition; Google does not reveal any other national, provincial, territorial, state, municipal, or organizational flags that consist of a single solid orange.

Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!You sing, more and more confused as to why.

Well, wait a second. Think about my proposal in the context of June.

There is a cause, a commemoration, Which one is inextricably linked to orange: National Gun Violence Awareness, of which orange is the official color.

Among other less imperative accolades, June is Gun Violence Awareness Month, and right now “Cap City” is grappling with an unprecedented second year of lethality. Cap City also needs a new flag.

Gun deaths in 2021 are already on track for break the record fixed last year, during which 129 people were shot dead – of which 17 were killed – in one of the deadliest years on record. (And, in a weirdly odd report linking my current whereabouts to my life at home, the Times Union also reported last week that a handgun used in four shootings in Albany from 2017 to 2018 had actually been stolen from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.)

So let’s recognize the synergistic tendencies that intersect at this particular moment in time and space. Can the cause of the reduction in gun violence lead to a long-standing replacement of city icons, and vice versa? Can we eliminate the old indignities pictured on our handlebars while working to spare mothers the devastation of unnecessarily burying children caught in the crossfire?

National Gun Violence Awareness Month doesn’t mean June is the open season for mass confiscation of personal firearms. And celebrating LGBTQIA communities or African-American music doesn’t mean that June is officially the month we go looking for state symbols to skewer.

But, like, come on; the seal of Albany depicts a dutch farmer, a mohican warrior, a beaver and a boat. Can these concepts hardly be better represented by the color orange, which recalls these courageous adventurers from the New World – inculcated in the revolutionary spirit of William of Orange – who gained a foothold in the heart of the proud Mohican confederation?

And, like, do we need a tricolor, as a solid orange flag would symbolically align Albany’s identity with our lifelong struggle to eradicate the horrific gun violence that plagues the streets at the heart of government? of State ?

These are the questions. And sometimes the answers are right in front of you. Other times, they’re on the label of the local brand beer you’ve drunk, which you first notice only after your third hour in a bar during the June Midsummer. But however you come up with those answers, orange, you’re glad I didn’t say “Central warehouse?” “

Captain Jesse Sommer is an active duty Army paratrooper and longtime resident of Albany County. He welcomes your thoughts to [email protected].

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