When I was 5, I stood with my hand on my heart and recited words I didn’t understand-the pledge of allegiance-to a country that threatened to deport my best friend and their family.
When I was 8, I pledged allegiance to the flag that refused to help my dad when he lost his job, and then our childhood home because the economy crashed.
When I was 11, I pledged allegiance to the flag as tears rolled down students faces after our counselors told us, “Colby Castro committed suicide this Tuesday, if you need support please come to the front office.” There are still rumors to this day that he killed himself due to endless bullying from his friends and family for loving another boy.
When I was 14, I pledged allegiance to the flag after winter break, when my five year old brother said his last words on Christmas, then spent two weeks in the hospital, because his doctor gave him the wrong diagnosis.
When I was 15, I pledged allegiance to the flag the day my boyfriend raped me in my own bedroom, and when I told the police they weren’t able to do anything because I came forward later, when I found out partners can rape too.
When I was 16, I pledged allegiance to the flag as my black brothers and sisters stood united in Ferguson, because police officers keep killing innocent unarmed black people.
When I was 17, I sat while classmates stood to pledge allegiance to a flag that now stands for a country that is not mine.
Today, while my classmates stand for a flag that portrays the opposite of liberty and justice for all-I sit. These classmates stand for discrimination, racial injustice, rape culture, police brutality, and stand against the basic human rights that all people should have.
Where are you now, my liberty and justice for all?