A Child … Just A Child

It seems to me that this nation places too much value on rites and rituals and not enough on substantive issues.  When an eleven-year-old child is arrested … yes, arrested by police … for exercising his right to free speech by refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, something has gone awry with our values as a nation.

It all began on the morning of February 4th, when a young boy at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Polk County, Florida, refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance.  The boy had refused to stand for the pledge for the entire school year, and had written permission from his mother to do so. But on this day there was a substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez.  When Ms. Alvarez asked the boy why he didn’t stand, he told her he believes the pledge represents racism.  Ms. Alvarez’ responded …

“Why if it was so bad here you do not go to another place to live.”

And when the boy replied, “They brought me here,” Alvarez said …

“Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”

Perhaps Ms. Alvarez forgot she was talking to an 11-year-old child who has neither the autonomy nor the means to choose his own place to live?

“Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”

A school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department eventually responded to the classroom and arrested the boy.  Arrested a child.  An African-American child who did not break any law.  According to a statement by Polk County Public Schools, the child “became disruptive” and “refused to follow instructions.”  Excuse me, but the boy is eleven years old!  He was no doubt frightened and felt threatened!  He was not an adult who might have been able to understand and deal with the situation in a moderated voice!

This case, naturally, brings to mind that of Colin Kaepernick who was unduly ostracized and penalized for exercising his first amendment right to refuse to stand for the national anthem.  If Colin Kaepernick had been Caucasian, would the results have been different?  If this 11-year-old boy had been Caucasian, would the results have been different?  We will never know for sure, but my best guess is that yes, in both cases the refusal to stand would have been largely overlooked.

On Tuesday, Brian Haas, the state attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Florida, said that his office would not prosecute the boy despite statements by the police that he had made threats after disrupting class. “The case is closed,” Mr. Haas said.

However, the boy’s mother, understandably, is not satisfied, nor is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Dhakira Talbot, the lad’s mother, declined an offer from prosecutors on Monday to drop the case if the boy completed a so-called diversion program, which could include a fine and community service.  She has obtained an attorney who plans to file a civil-rights complaint with the federal Department of Education this week.

A personal note here.  Throughout my childhood I refused steadfastly to stand for the pledge or to engage in the morning prayer that was requisite in the Catholic schools I attended.  The nuns did not like it and more than a few times I was smacked on the hands and even the head with the metal edge of a ruler (Catholic schools in the 1950s were notorious for corporal punishment).  But, being the stubborn girl I was even back then, I did not give in.  AND … I did not get arrested.  I seriously doubt that calling the police ever crossed their minds!

According to the New York Times article from February 19th

Across the country, black students are disciplined more often and face harsher consequences than their white peers. At Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, black students made up 17 percent of the student body last school year but represented 39 percent of disciplinary actions, according to data from the Florida Department of Education.

Systemic racism.  Perhaps the biggest shame of this nation.  And an 11-year-old boy has suffered an experience he will never forget.  He has been shown, first-hand, that black people are treated with less respect, less dignity than those with pale skin.  What lasting effect will this incident have on a young child’s life?  There is no way to know, but we can rest assured that it will colour his views for the rest of his life.

23 thoughts on “A Child … Just A Child

  1. You know, the real important things get lost in stupid dogmas. Hopefully, the boy will see the absurdity of the teacher’s actions (and one would hope that the police officers do too). If that happened in Britain when our National Anthem plays, they would have to arrest half the population. We stand up for our National anthem in public spaces, but only if we respect the monarchy. Many don’t and remain seated without reprimand or legal action. The notion of that is absurd. Our Monarchy are people, so one could defer to them, but to defer to a flag seems silly. I think Trump would like to think of himself as Monarchy… I bet a lot of people would stay seated if he were.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems that rites and rituals, symbols, have become more important than people. Your Queen is worthy of respect … our ‘president’ certainly is NOT. Yes, he fancies himself a monarch, or a ‘Supreme Leader’, but he isn’t really even a president. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, I applauded him, and I still do, for our national anthem is but a song that is intended to represent an ideology that has long since died. This nation no longer has credibility, no longer has dignity or humanitarian values. No, all we have now is Trump and he isn’t worth standing for.

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  2. Dear Jill,

    How this 11 year old was treated is outrageous. Thank goodness that he has a Mom who’s stepping up to the plate to challenge the school personnel, the local police department and the prosecutors. office. She has to take a stand against this kind of ignorance but then I hope that young man can attend another school.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can only shake my head at the absurdity of this! I hope this doesn’t colour the boy’s view of the world for the rest of his life, but that it helps him become a strong advocate of bringing about change for the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad that this incident kinda negates the whole point of pledging our allegiance. Why support an unjust system of governance, while also being subjugated to the unlawful whims of a police state? I do hope the little boy’s parent sue the hell out of all parties involved in his incarceration. Sigh, sign of the times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Who knows what direction the bitterness of this episode could send him in. We have to hope it’s heading towards somehow making a change for the better there with his parents guidance. I’d hate to think this woman had sent him on the route of vengeance for her actions, and those of the attending police.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • True. It could lead him to a determination to spend his life changing the way the world works, or he may wallow in bitterness and let this incident colour his life. I would hope the former, but time will tell. That woman should never have gone into teaching with that attitude! Who ever heard of telling an 11-year-old child to move to someplace else? And who ever heard of arresting a kid who probably has no concept why this happened to him? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
      Cwtch

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    • The original intent of the pledge of allegiance was to unify it’s citizenry in order to have faith in one’s country, to defend her in times of need…with liberty and justice for all. Yes it was a form of indoctrination to conform to a system of governmental control over it’s citizens. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if the system of governance is fair and just, placing the needs of its ppl first.
      However that is no longer the case, with the advent of the Federal Reserve incorporated in 1913, and corporations considered as artificial persons under the law, the ppl are now subordinate to the interests and needs of banks and corps. The government now serve these entities, politicians being willing accomplices/ stooges (both parties).
      It has become a divisive vehicle b/c the masses are awakening to the fact that they do not want to become socio-economic, political pawns subjecting themselves to a system which discount their very being… esp minorities.

      Interestingly, the Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
      In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

      “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing that, Bee! It is much more representative of the way the majority of us are, but unfortunately the loud vulgarity of Trump seems to overshadow the rest of us. Thanks again! Hugs!

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  5. Hopefully it will result in his becoming a Social Justice Warrior working for the betterment of society, though I am sure conservative whites in the area hope he ends up in jail because he did not kowtow to the system.
    It just so happens that one of Trump’s pets down Florida way tried to tell me non-whites where he went to school disrupted classes all the time, esp. immigrants from 3rd world countries who had no desire to learn how to do anything but live off the social system. I can see where there is a lot of bigoted misunderstanding down there, but el dumpo says it is that way, and we all know he would not lie.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, it could be that he grows up determined to work toward making the system better, more fair. Or perhaps even go into teaching to be a better one than that substitute. Or, he could grow up bitter and let the experience colour his life in dark shades. Only time will tell and you and I won’t likely ever know.

      Trump would never lie, of course, and he has basically found fault with all except his WASP base. Oh how I hope he gets what he deserves in November 2020 … or even sooner if possible.

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