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I pledge allegiance

October 1st, 2011 · 5 Comments

Webmaster’s Note: As immigration becomes a more amplified issue in the GOP race for President, especially in regards to the actions of Governor Rick Perry and his support for the TX State DREAM Act, it is worth listening to what one DREAMer in Texas has experienced. 

By Thailandia Alaffita

Every morning, for fourteen years, I rose from my desk at school automatically, and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. I don’t remember how I learned it, much less how I learned it when my native language was Spanish. I suppose, that after hearing something over and over, and repeating it over and over, it becomes true, it becomes a part of you – whether it is or not.

Much like being American is a fact for Dreamers, not just a dream. We grow up hearing over and over that we are American, that we will all go to college, and have a career not just a job, and that we live in a country of freedom and justice. That we are just like everybody else. We hear it so much we believe it.

When I was younger, I was able to say the pledge with my right hand over my heart, my back straight, my voice steady and my eyes fixed on the prize. I never thought about what word came next, I just knew it. I had memorized it. In my years in college though, I learned that memorizing things doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve learned it.

It wasn’t until now, that I am back in the school setting, that I’ve been really listening to what I’m saying when I’m pledging allegiance to the flag. I enunciate each word perfectly and with such precision as if each word is crucial to the overall meaning of the pledge (as an English major I really believe this). I want so badly to be able to say that I am pledging allegiance to a flag of a country that is mine.

Now, however, my right hand struggles to find the heart it should go over, as we all know that home is where the heart is, and this country says I am not home. My voice quivers and breaks every time I say “liberty and justice for all” because for years I believed it true, and secretly I think I still do. And I close my eyes now, as I imagine a country that lives up to its promises. And the only thing that is still as it used to be is my perfect standing because no matter what I still love my flag, I still believe in my flag, and I still respect my flag. All I am asking is that the flag that I love so dearly loves, believes, and respects me too.

I grew up hearing from all my teachers, like every other little boy and girl, that I was college material, that if I worked hard I would thrive, and that if I really wanted something I would get it, for I was in the country of opportunities and here, anything was possible. I believed that my hard work would pay off, and that in this country, we all had our personal fairy godmother and all we had to do was really want something.

I tell this to my students now too, and can’t help but wonder if as teachers we are just conditioned to tell this to all our students and just hope for the best, hope that they all make it, or at the very least that some do. But what happens to the students like me, and like all my Dreamer friends, who despite all odds are trying to make it, and believe that all their hard work will pay off, but then they finish college and realize that they have hit a road block that all the hope and want and need simply cannot move?

 

 

 

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Tags: Education · Immigration

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 IE // Oct 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Thay,

    As an American, I consider you my fellow countrywoman. The arrogance and fear of that others have are really the roadblocks that must come down.

    Don’t get discouraged…Dreamers will win this fight, because deep down most Americans know it’s the right thing to do.

  • 2 Paul J. Perez // Oct 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

    You will have your justice and liberty for all. Unfortunately, not soon enough.

  • 3 Chicano future tense // Oct 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    The American flag is subject to different interpretations.

    Interpreted differently by varying groups of people the same flag can have divergent meanings attached to it symbols of conflicting and opposing values.

    To the Tea Party,Minutemen,Patriot groups and millions of racist xenophobic American voters,both GOP and Democrats who support SB 1070 like state laws,the American flag symbolizes national sovereignty,the rule of law,respect of law.

    Like it or not,it is reality,such values represent powerful emotional symbolism in their psyche.This is what the American flag symbolizes to them.

    In their minds,undocumented Mexicanos and Dreamers represent the opposite of what they believe the flag stands for,in their eyes,they see Dreamers,Undocumented Mexicans as callous,disrespectful violators,law breakers,criminal invaders of American national sovereignty.To them Dreamers and undocumented Mexican workers also represent a kind of a Dream…a Nightmare.

    That’s what the flag means to them.Do you think they are wrong to follow such symbolism?Do you also love and respect those things they love and see in the flag?

    The current strict legal interpretation of immigration and criminal laws is executed via federal and state government laws and legislation,enforced in practice by agencies such as ICE,HS,Border Patrol,police,federal,state and local,departments,agencies and other social institutions.

    This struggle for moral value,meaning and symbolism which DREAMERS and undocumented Mexicans seek to define the American flag,will in the eyes of their opponents de facto allows the undocumented to circumscribe and bypass the established legal process of this country (breaking the law),and this phenomena will be contested aggresively by millions of Americans who you can bet will surely mount a powerful political opposition to any form of Amnesty.

    We can gush all we want about the American flag and how wonderful,beautiful and great it is and all that patriotic gore and melodrama,but such sentiments are meaningless and powerless unless one is willing to actually go out there and fight,sacrifice and be willing to put their bodies out on the line risking arrest,beatings and deportation.

    Freedom never comes cheaply and is more often than not paid for by blood,sweat and tears.
    This political contest,sometimes cold and hot,sometimes open and hidden is currently being waged over the interpretation,meaning and symbolism of that flag you love so much bearing contradictions that there are others who oppose you,who claim to love the flag just as much as you do.

    Appeals to subjective patriotic Emotionalism and morality differ in character and substance depending on which group it is made to,both groups claim to be truly patriotic,those on the other side of the debate see their political opponents as immoral hypocrites and law breakers.

    The meaning,symbolism and interpretation of the American flag will be not be determined by relative,melodramatic appeals to emotions and morality,rather it will be won by those who have fought the hardest,who are last ones standing in the political fight,who take the greatest risks,make the greatest sacrifices and suffering.

    …whining,snivelling or crying will accomplish very little..it’s never that easy..

    The point is to get out there and actually do something to change things!

  • 4 irma // Oct 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I empathize with the plight of the Dreamers, even though I am an American citizen. I was born on the US side of the Rio Grande, that is basically the only difference (genetically and culturally) between me and many Dreamers.
    However, the Pledge of Allegiance is not a promise about what the USA will give to those whose pledge allegiance to its flag. This pledge expresses an opinion about the USA ie. “liberty and justice for all.” It is basically a prayer – one prays and hopes you are answered.
    Let’s hope it hopes for the Dreamers.

  • 5 Anna // Oct 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Re: “Freedom never comes cheaply and is more often than not paid for by blood,sweat and tears.”

    But they aren’t willing to do that in Mexico, which is why we have the immigration situation we have today.

    And have you read about Fast and Furious? The Obama Administration arming Mexican drug cartels who used those guns to slaughter both Mexican and Americans. Mexican and Mexican-Americans are not even human to Obama. Can’t wait for this incompetent, lying idiot to be out of office!!!!!

    And somebody please tell Eva Longoria to stop making a fool out of herself by defending him!!!

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