Truth - I stopped pledging allegiance back in high school. The words didn't ring true for me and honestly they never really had. The words of the pledge, the hands over the heart, the recitation in unison, and all the pomp and circumstance that come with it didn't make sense. Why would I pledge allegiance to a flag, government, and to a republic that failed to recognize the existence of all it's people, including me? I pledge my allegiance to the people who make up this great nation. With them lies power, greatness, peace, hope, and love. For them, I write and dedicate this post and my allegiance. 

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"
Benjamin Franklin

As a kid I always wondered why we remade to repeat the pledge over and over. Wasn't one time enough? If I call you my friend and declare my loyalty to you one time is a all it takes. You should have no fear that I will ever forsake you. Why then must we partake in the civil religious ritual chanting in harmonious accord? Maybe we need reminders of the ideals we're supposed to strive for or what we allegedly stand for. Maybe we are not so sure that everyone takes those things to heart and may falter in their support for the red, white, and blue. Or maybe we're made to say it enough for each one of us to believe; but then again some people are easier to convince than others. What does it take for you to believe a lie? Nothing really, especially when you have always known that lie to be one in the same synonymous with the truth.

One nation? We are a nation made up of other nationalities. We are immigrants, some whose ancestors came (not so) long ago displacing, destroying, and erasing millions of indigenous peoples in the process but came nonetheless, and others who still carry the telltale signs of multiculturalism and understand themselves  to be encapsulated in a perpetual struggle to assimilate but remain true to their heritage and those they left behind. We label anything we deem different as other, outsider, or unorthodox. We are a melting pot but take a sip and it would all taste the same.  We've been diluted until we're homogenized. Any spice that swims to the surface is stirred away until it's indistinguishable from any other spoonful. Why do we pretend to embrace diversity when we push it away constantly? Our xenophobia is strong. We want your diversity but to function here, for you to be accepted (an arms' length away of course), and for our fears to be facetiously quelled you must be act American, speak American, know America, and be American. To clarify, that means white, male identified, gender role abiding masculine, heterosexual, cisgender, Protestant, temporarily able-bodied, average sized, English speaking/literate, college educated, upper-middle class, married, mid-40s, free on physical or medical conditions, hot dog loving, jhorts wearing, flag-waving, and star-spangled bleeding - American citizen. Don't get me started on other countries, we're not the best, nor the only country in the world. Well my blood bleeds red like all other people.  My heart, my passion, my everything belongs to the people.

Indivisible? There's no need - we've always been divided. From our inception, we were divided by race, class, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. We live divided, separated, and segregated in subtle ways daily. Stop complaining about political correctness whenever you're called out for acting as if your existence is the only one allowed. That term is for those who have never known that in fact everyone is different but also deserves to be included. It's lazy. It's base. It's unacceptable. You're better than that to be thwarted by words. You're angry you're reprimanded in general not what the specifics of it - recognize it. Remember you are included in those inclusive words (like you've always been) as well. It's like being in a class and your teacher never remembering that you're there or acknowledging you in the slightest. It's not okay. Addressing people the ways they would like to be isn't just respect it's human decency.

Liberty and justice for all? Now that's a good one. Who gets to be free in these United States? Who gets to decide who and what is normal? Who gets to determine if, how, and when people have access to different aspects of society? Survey says - those same people I described up above in a long-winded diatribe (well this whole thing is a tirade but I digress) would be correct. We have founding fathers for a reason. Justice is one I haven't seen in the longest time. Seems like wanton crimes against humanity every way you look. What  are you so afraid of? You know you have been overcome by fear when you eviscerate a future threat when it's nonexistent. Small wins have come but there are still so many more needed. It doesn't make them any less important but it doesn't everything's okay either. We're all different - our lives, experiences, loves, passions, thoughts, and everything else. That's okay but we're all also human which means we deserve compassion, empathy, and hope for another. That's where my allegiance lies.

This photo speaks the truth by the volumes!

saddly accurate..

(quote via tomefirst)
With the advent of social media it has become nearly impossible, lest you choose to do so, to avoid the tumultuous social landscape in which we live. In short, the people are pissed off, and have begun to recognize that the revolution will not be televised but rather shared, liked, and posted. Take a step back and look at the bigger pictures and all the oppression, hatred, bigotry, and injustice that goes on around is connected. We're all part of the same struggle but I'd be unbearably naïve if I didn't taken into account that our lived experiences are all drastically different. What becomes most important to us is usually what directly effects us. Some movements, just like their corresponding identities, are more visible than others. Some gain traction in the mainstream media, others are derailed by it, and even more still others work subversively to dismantle the systems that operate to hinder them.

Spending countless hours watching videos of people filming the police and their heinous interactions with them is not your typical way to spend time but it's well worth it. This past week another woman of color became a deceased hashtag, Sandra Bland, while under police custody. What trended in the wake of her murder, yes murder because her committing suicide in a jail cell just days before she was to start her dream job is a fallacy and a farce, was #ifIdieinpolicecustody and the tweets were powerful. Again there was uproar and rage especially in the one year anniversary of the killing of Eric Garner.

Screw the politics of respectability. Let me break it down for you. There's ways (normalized by dominant sects of society) that dictate how you're supposed to behave, or speak to get a dignified response but the problem with them is even if you adhere to them you silence yourself or still won't be listened to. The flipside leaves you with fulfilling stereotypes of being loud, crazy, dramatic, etc. I could not care less. In times like these when people are literally being killed because their existence is seen as threatening, there's no rational way to react. I'm going to be angry. I'm going to yell. I'm going to burn this whole place to the ground if that's what it will take to get people to listen. Don't tell me how to dress, don't tell me how to act, or how to speak - you can understand me damn well whether or not I enunciate my articulation or not in the ways that you prefer. The politics of respectability can kiss my black ass. I am an angry black man and what are you going to do about it ... kill me? Sorry, I apologize. That's too real, that's too relevant right now. Yes, that is what happens. Exterminated, expunged, expatriated from existence for being too black, too dangerous, too un-American. How is anyone supposed to react when people are being killed for nothing more than being who they are? What kind of place do we live in?

You can take the title American away from me. I've never really claimed it anyway. It wasn't meant for me. This country was founded literally on the backs, bones, and blood of other people. When people use the word American, they are not referring to anyone who looks, speaks, or exists like me. Until I'm proud to be part of this community, that is one that demonstrates love, kindness, and celebration of diversity, I renounce it. That's a privilege I'm afforded. I'm walking in solidarity with my brothers and sisters. Anyone who believes in the irrefutable importance of humanity and each and every person may walk with me. The environment, religion, education, mental health, body image, age - all of it matters when we're walking forward together.

What stands it to me is how easy it is to be focused on your one issue. You alienate people when you do so. Of course it's important but we're also tasked with doing this work from places of privilege where we can affect the most change, amplify others' voices, and give room for truth. Our freedoms are connected - the marginalized with the privileged. In liberating the former, the benefactors of that subordination aka the oppressors are also released from the tyranny that plagues them as well. In other words, men destroying sexism helps you, white people racism is your damn issue, temporarily able-bodied people know that ableism has everything to do with you. All those unearned benefits, those times that you gained something because of who you are (are perceived to be, and all the gut-wrenching feelings in between get to be reconciled away as well. United means together we must go forward. I pledge my allegiance to the people and they to me. X


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