Many Native American students have never known that loyalty to their ancestors would put them in trouble. Well, this is something that two students got to learn the hard way. They didnât know that sticking to their values of not reciting the pledge of allegiance and standing by anything under the American flag, would put them in trouble. When the students failed to stand up during the recital of the allegiance pledge, the teacher decided to escalate the matter and punish them for disobeying the pledge of allegiance. Well, the punishment involved deduction of the studentsâ participation grades and the reason behind it, refusal to recite the pledge of allegiance. This did not sit well with the students and they decided to follow up on the matter with the authorities. The good news is that these girls got to find backing in the schoolâs district superintendent as their matter was taken up and investigations launched.
Lelani Thomas, one of the victims explained her standing by stating that Native Americans were oppressed in their own country and she would not pay allegiance to a pledge that is a result of oppression to her ancestors. The decision not to recite the pledge of allegiance was out of a decision made by the Native American students to stand in solidarity with their ancestors who were oppressed in their land. As a result of this, the students had to pay for their actions by losing two of their marks. The outraged teacher reduced the studentsâ marks from five to three. The main reason behind it being, the students they refused to stand during the recital. In a recording that Thomasâs father presented to the administration, the teacher is heard telling the students that their ancestors were long dead and there was no point at all of still holding on to past happenings.
Free speech is a freedom that needs to be enjoyed by everyone regardless of origin. The students believe that the pledge of allegiance is a reminder of the oppression that their Native American ancestors went through. They, therefore, have a right to speak about the ills that were occasioned to their forefathers no matter the number of years it has been after the happenings. As much as the pledge of allegiance is part of what most students at Lake High School like Lelani Thomas are subjected to. The same doesnât mean that they donât have the freedom to speak against it and register their protest by refusing to stand up when itâs being recited or reciting it all. The two girls, Thomas, and her friend remain an example of what loyalty entails and are the perfect example of a young and courageous future generation.
As it stands the two students have been put under a new teacher as the discriminative teacherâs matter is being investigated by the administration. These two students remain an example to the larger Native American student family and most importantly to any discriminative teacher out there who might want to take such matters into their own hands without involving the authorities.