I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United COVID of America, and to the racists for which they stand above everyone else, one corrupt and capitalist nation, somewhat under God?, very divided, with no liberty or justice for all white men. 

Wait—sorry, was that not the pledge we repeated in school every morning for 12 years straight? The original words to the pledge do not apply to America today, and the real history of the pledge, some of which you might already have known, some of which might be new to you. Lastly, it will address that kids in schools should be taught the real history of the pledge and make a decision on whether or not to recite it at 8:30 A.M. every morning. 

Let’s talk about the history of the pledge. The pledge was written in 1891 by a former pastor of Boston’s Bethany Baptist Church, Francis Bellamy, as part of a patriotic program for schools around the country to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christoper Columbus’s “arrival in America.” This arrival—which included bringing new diseases to the Natives—pushed them off their land onto reservations through murder and famine, and yet they are celebrated by Bellamy as well as many others.

Through the pledge, Bellamy attempted to capture the “underlying spirit” of the American Republic and sought to define “true Americanism”. During the time of which it was written, there was a rising tide of southern and eastern European immigrants coming to America and seen as, according to Bellamy, “Races which we cannot assimilate without lowering our own racial standard”. He believed that people could not let immigrants in because it would lower their own “racial standards.” This is the mindset of white supremacists that are upholding systematic racism in this country. Immigrants coming to America will not take away the privilege white people have nor have that much impact on their lives. 

Immigrants who were darker-skinned and less likely to speak English were considered to be unassimilable and unskilled compared to white immigrants from Northern and Western Europe. Bottom line is, the pledge was written by a racist white man who saw everyone not from America as “dull-witted and fanatical,” and viewed immigrants who would come to America as a threat to white native-born Protestant American culture which the American Republic was built upon. It was written in part of the assimilation process of immigrants which requires them to “pledge their allegiance” to the United States so they do not do anything to threaten American values and culture. Bellamy’s pledge also was written, in his words, to “mobilize the masses to support primary American doctrines by warding off internal enemies hostile to Americanism.” This plays a huge role in this nation’s patriotism, encourages racism by being hostile to people not from America, and the history and the words of the pledge illustrates the continued necessity of protests happening right now. 

“..liberty and justice for all.” There is no justice for all right now, some would say there has never been. Justice would include arresting cops who have killed innocent black people such as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, more recently, Dijon Kizzee. So many others that had their whole life in front of them, and it was taken away unfairly. The police are supposed to “protect and serve” not murder and get away with it. Systematic racism takes away justice and freedom for all. Black people are seen as less than in this country and are treated as less. They are seen as not deserving of equal, BASIC, human rights which is bigoted and sad.

Kids in school, (including online school), are able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to stand up for the pledge, yet most schools expect them too. According to the Washington Post, “The Supreme Court has held, in fact, that the government can neither require a student to participate in the pledge nor compel them ‘to engage in what amounts to implicit expression by standing at respectful attention while the flag salute is being administered.’” Students should not feel pressured to stand up and recite words to a pledge if they do not feel like the words apply to them as they should. Compulsory patriotism such as students being forced to stand for the pledge is an important reminder that questions of race and belonging are always linked to notions of nationalism and nationality.