Why I don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance


graphic by Tory Spruill

Summer Etzler sits for the pledge.

by Summer Etzler, Reporter

Ever since the beginning of my junior year, I stopped standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. I was hesitant to do this because I was worried about what others would think of me. I knew it would be a risky protest, but I want to make others aware of why I am protesting.

There has been a controversy in the media about 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who in the beginning of September kneeled during the national anthem and continues to do so. In an interview with NFL media after the game, Kaepernick explained why he took the actions he did.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” said Kaepernick in the interview with NFL media. 

I stopped standing for the pledge last year and just recently stopped standing for the national anthem when I heard about Colin Kaepernick doing the same thing. One reason why I stopped standing is because we’re never taught what the Pledge of Allegiance actually means. We start saying the Pledge of Allegiance in kindergarten. We’ve been saying it for so long, I think we’re saying it without knowing why. It’s just something we say every day because it’s a social norm. I think we should be educated about the pledge and then have the choice whether or not we want to say it instead of standing at such a young age without knowing what it means.

Another reason why I stopped standing was because of the line in the pledge “One Nation Under God.” I think this is discriminatory towards people who don’t believe in God or believe in multiple gods.

“One Nation Under God” was added by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 because of national fear of the threat of Soviet Communism. We no longer live in 1954. I think this part of the pledge helps extremist politicians and preachers validate that those that don’t believe in God don’t belong in America.

This contradicts the part of the pledge that says “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible means we can rise above our differences. We can’t rise above our differences if there are still powerful people in America being discriminatory against people of different faiths.

“Liberty and justice for all” is not provided for minority groups in America. For example, members of the LGBTQ community are refused service in some areas of the country. Also, immigrants who live in Louisiana can’t get married. There are also injustices against African Americans and other races who aren’t white. Some include recent shootings of Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, and Samuel Dubose.

Many people have called me out for sitting for the pledge, including teachers. The question I get asked often by other students is “Do you hate your country, is that why you’re not standing?”  No, I don’t hate my country. I’m one of the privileged people in this country because I’m white, my family isn’t poor, I get my education, and I rarely face discrimination. So how could I hate living in this country? I just don’t agree with positions our government and our society have taken.

What I hope to achieve when I sit for the pledge is to make other people aware of why I’m sitting. I like when people ask me why I sit so I can educate them about my concerns with this country and hopefully make them look at things from another point of view. I want this country to be more progressive in working towards equality.

I don’t think I can solve the world’s problems just by sitting for the pledge and national anthem. However, I do think sitting makes more people aware of issues in America. I want people to try to be open minded and educate themselves about equality in this country. I think the more people who work for equality, the more likely we can make a difference.