Jacksonville, Florida. Neptune Beach Elementary school. Mrs. Williams fourth grade class.
There was a young lady in my class; she didn’t say much and no one spoke to her either. She very much kept to herself but I watched her because she was unusual to me. Even in the fourth grade I was analytical. I could tell alot from a person just by watching them. This girl was smart and very humble. She was very homely though. Her clothes were often old and smelly like they came from her grandmothers attic. They fit like they belong to her big sister but looked more like they were her aunt Pearl’s.
One day I noticed she did not stand for the pledge of allegiance or prayer and from that day on, although I stood, I watched her instead of saying the pledge myself. She never stood and Mrs. Williams never said anything to her. One day, I decided I was not going to stand either. I felt so inspired and adventurous as I eyed my oblivious co-conspirator in our attempt of defiance of this allegiance that I was never taught the meaning of, just that I am supposed to stand and say it. I could feel Mrs. Williams anger burn through my soul as I refused to look at her but instead stared at this girl for more invisible empowerment. I felt accomplished and it felt good until I felt Mrs. Williams snatch me out of the classroom by my arm and took me out into the hall.
“What is wrong with you!” She bellowed. I was confused as heck because I know for a fact that she did not take the other girl out of class for her insubordination or at least not that I had ever saw. She went on to tell me that many black people have died for our right to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance and that I should respect that. She said that if I ever did that again she would send me to the office for paddling. Tears were in her eyes as she chastened me and I had no idea why. From that day on I stood for the pledge of allegiance but I never said it. Instead I spent the time wondering what was so important about this pledge that mad mean ol’ Mrs. Williams cry and why did she not ever say anything to the young lady who silently encouraged me to take a stand and not conform but to research and learn why we even say it anyhow.
At the end of the year, on the last day of school, Mrs. Williams pulled me to the side again to tell me how proud of me she was for putting forth my best effort this year. I was patiently waiting for her to stop talking though so I could asked why she was so angry at me but never once said anything to the other girl. When I finally did, she shook her head as to say “I bet this was all you were thinking about and couldn’t wait for me to shut up”. Her look was accurate. She just sadly stated that she was a Jehovah’s Witness and did not have to stand for the pledge or prayer.
From that day on, I have never said the pledge of Allegiance. And to this day, I do not make my children do it either. First of all, as a God fearing woman, I choose not to pledge anything but to God. I do not even make promises or swear on the bible. Now, looking back, it is the best decision. How can I pledge my allegiance to something that is one sided? So many people (both black and white as well as other nationalities) are dying senselessly at the hands of trigger happy police. Families are made to separate for government assistance, the same government you pay with every single one of your paychecks without option. Men and woman are dying in wars created for financial gain, and while corporations get richer and richer off the poor dollar the poor reap no benefits but to remain poor.
How dare you get angry because Colin Kaepernick exercised his right to not stand and support a country that only supports foolishness and incompetent choices on the backs of the people who are literally making this country the running country it is. The ‘lesser class’ is what keeps this country going. What rich man are you going to see take off their suit and leave their multi-million dollar home to mow a lawn, deliver mail, run a cash register, or bag groceries? Yet the workers are the ones getting killed, beaten, separated from their loved ones, and destroyed.
Where in the constitution, no, where in the WORLD does it say that you HAVE to stand for or even acknowledge the national anthem? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.