I Have Complicated Feelings on the Pledge of Allegiance

Last Thursday, my spouse and I went to dinner with friends, and when our conversation touched on Colin Kaepernick, I asked this question:

“What do you guys think of the Pledge of Allegiance?”

I feel a little silly saying this: I had to muster some courage to ask my real question as a follow-up. What do you do with the Pledge of Allegiance, when you’re… just not that into it?

I have complicated feelings on the Pledge of Allegiance, as an American and separately, as an educator. This is a truth that goes back several years for me, well before Kaepernik took a knee; evem before I had a Jehovah’s Witness in my class. (Though, talking to a third grader who was very informed on her faith’s religious teachings was undoubtedly an experience that left a big impression on me.) My feelings are hard to put into words, and even then, I don’t know whether my experiences are relatable. I am not accustomed to talking about this.

I think my biggest fear is that this is a topic that people just… take for granted. That there’s only one obvious and correct thing, so why question it? I perceive that to doubt the Pledge out loud is risky business, so I usually keep my thoughts to myself. And I’m a person with relative privilege. If I’m afraid to bring it up, how must someone with much less power — a student, a child, a religious or racial minority — feel when they’re uncomfortable with ritualized nationalism?

So my heart swelled when I saw this on Twitter:

As an educator, I have complicated feelings on the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ve felt that way for several years now, and it’s always been something I’m very, very hesitant to talk about. So I am really looking forward to this Twitter chat tomorrow.

What do I hope to get out of the chat? Honestly, just a conversation would be great. I don’t feel like I want to be convinced to be pro-Pledge or anti-Pledge. I’m excited to hear perspectives different from my own, sharing points I have never thought of or considered. Hopefully maybe even some students will participate. I don’t want to come to a conclusion in my feelings, I wanted to be supported as I explore the topic.

I’m open to being persuaded — I don’t mind being wrong. I do fear being made to feel stupid or wrong or bad because I had asked the question to begin with.


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