Previously Published in Huffington Post on 11/09/2016:
I don't think I can say the Pledge of Allegiance today. I teach high school students, and second period, when we all say the Pledge together, I will be sharing my room with my eleventh grade Advanced Placement Language and Composition students. I have spent the last three months teaching them about the power of words. I don't think I can use those words today. I don't think I have any words to speak today that will be good enough or strong enough to quell my fears, or to touch the unnamed fears my students must be harboring. I have brown skinned children in my class. I have blue haired girls, and muslim young women. I have strong women in my class. I believed that I would walk in today able to speak to that strength, able to hand to them an America that I believed in. But today, something has shifted, and I don't know how to form the words, to make them believe that I support this man. He has bullied, and shamed, and hurt so many. He has divided and belittled and served no one but himself. He is now America. As a teacher, how can I support that? How can I tell them that their America is still alive and well, when we have now seen another country rise up in our midst. The Trump country is one of ignorance, resisting intellect with wild abandon. The Trump country is one of ownership, of women's bodies, of guns and division. It is one of dishonesty again and again and again. It is anti-constitutional, even as he claims to hold up the second amendment. He keeps the press out. He holds no belief in the power of discourse. He is a one man government, who will surround himself with men like him, who would have gladly joined him in his "locker room," and they will laugh together at the world that they are raising, and the future that looks more and more like a past we have tried to forget.
And perhaps that is the problem. We allowed ourselves to forget. We believed we were safe, because we had already created a sense of equality in our nation, we had already fought for civil rights, and women's rights, and marriage equality, and perhaps we forgot that each of those rights is not built on a cement foundation. That the wrong Supreme Court addition nominated by this man, can turn each of these successes into dust. Perhaps we forgot that we still need to fight. Perhaps we forgot that each of these victories left blood on the battlefield, but clearly not enough.
So maybe I have found my words as I write this out. Maybe all I say to my students, is that we have to keep fighting. We have to hold on to what we have built, and not allow it all to be demolished by the many angry people who won their own small minded battle last night.
We will fight for the words, for the language, for our beliefs that still can stand even in the face of this new America, which has risen from the shadows.
My Pledge is this: I Pledge Allegiance to civility, to brotherhood, and sisterhood, and goodness. I pledge to protect those in my care and those who need my care. I pledge to support those fighting for my safety and for my ability to share these beliefs with the world at large. I pledge to love. One Nation. Indivisible.