Death-stinking, blood-stained flag

Alexei Sorokin
3 min readApr 16, 2022

I want to give an example of how Russia’s war messes up my family’s Russian identity.

This problem is not a problem. There are bigger problems in life and of course, there is real suffering experienced by millions in Ukraine or displaced from Ukraine.

But I wanted to share an honest episode from the life of my family. Absolutely trivial and insignificant in the grandiose scheme of things but also telling.

We immigrated to America in 2013 and became permanent residents after a rather long immigration journey. One of my kids is already a US citizen (lucky him! he was born in America while I was doing my MBA).

So my young daughter plays tennis. She and her twin brother weren’t even two when we came to the US so of course, they’re very Americanized, though we do speak Russian in the family. Well, it’s increasingly a mix! With my older boys (I have two teenagers) I speak Russian and with my twins, it’s a mix of English and Russian.

We’re a tennis family. My other kids play too, not just my daughter. My wife used to play in Russia when she was a teenager so she brought tennis to our family and she coaches.

My daughter’s tennis so far has been the main focus of our family. She is good for her age and she likes the sport. I don’t want to talk too much about actual tennis — it’s a very long journey to becoming a real athlete, let alone a world-class athlete.

My wife keeps an Instagram account for our daughter, posting regularly on the training and the overall journey. It has a meaningful followers base.

Under her name, our daughter used to have two flags — American and Russian.

Soon after the war started, I told my wife to remove the Russian flag… I specifically called her in the middle of the day and told her to remove the tiny icon.

It feels awkward even writing about it. For one thing, it’s not the flag on Instagram of a ten-year-old girl that will lead or not lead to success. Then it feels awkward (my action) because it just does. Was I being cheap in rushing to remove the flag? Was I that embarrassed to be associated with Russia? Was I worried about my daughter being associated with Russia?

I don’t know the answer to these questions! On the one hand, I wrote this story recently, where I talked about not escaping my Russian identity.

Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day.