Collage by Alexis Hicks
My high school band teacher never really liked me. He’d probably say differently, especially now, but when you know, you know. He always found reasons to call my mom and complain about something I’d done. One of the things that flustered him was during the “Star Spangled Banner” at football games, I stood there, hands to my side, saying nothing. I don’t even know how he spotted me in the sea of blue and grey uniforms, but he did. A call to my mom wasn’t going to make me do anything differently.
By high school, I was questioning a lot of things (forming my politics, I learned it was called much later), but tension for me around the “Star Spangled Banner” and pledging to the flag had started years ago, when I was a child at Vacation Bible School. It didn’t make sense to me that we talked about idolatry at Sunday School then turned around and pledged allegiance to the American flag, Christian flag, and the Bible in the summer. So, after a while, I stopped.
When words and actions contradict, I learned from my family to pay attention to actions. I think most of us know to do that, but many of us choose to ignore what we’ve been taught or what our instinct says. It’s essential we walk what we believe and people see what we believe, even if we say nothing. This isn’t, necessarily, about Christianity, mind you. It’s about our priorities—what we pledge our allegiances to. If we say we are committed to supporting Black girls and women, buoying marginalized communities writ large, and creating an equitable society, that, by proxy, means we are also committed to destroying the power systems that uphold that. … even if we must sacrifice some luxuries.
We don’t always think about the ramifications of the things we pledge our allegiances, priorities, and energy to. At The Lighthouse we’ve decided the month this country has chosen to celebrate Independence for some and not all of us is just as good a time as any to reflect on just that.