Dear Future President,
As an ethnic minority whose racial population is declining, governmental policies are important to me- especially in terms of moral diversity. I am Navajo, and the teachings I’ve grown up to are not that of millions of others of Americans whose religious beliefs are represented in public schools to be so normal for every student to express. Things like the Pledge of Allegiance in which we, public school students, pledge our oath to the flag that has allusions from the bible. One nation under god is not a nation I wish to be a part of to be frank. So, why is it seen as such a normality to say every morning as a school policy? Personally, I do not say the pledge. Not only do I not associate myself with Christianity, I do not associate with any common religious teachings most Americans are introduced to.
My Indigenous culture has taught other teachings of religion, so why do I constantly have to be asked about why I do not say this biblical pledge? Why is it my school policy to stand for the pledge regardless of whether or not you say the pledge at all when it is not a policy to require all students to stand during the citations of Navajo beliefs? And why do we not cite Navajo beliefs in a school that is so close to the region? I do not live far from the Navajo Reservation, and I attend school with hundreds of other Native American students, so it is surprising to me to be constantly exposed to the teachings of Christianity in a public school. Things like holidays and breaks are dictated by religion, not just in my school, but in other schools around the country as well. Almost every school in the United States has about 5 main seasons in which school is not in session. Thanksgiving Holiday, Christmas Break, Spring Break, are all holidays in which could be spent in better ways. These national holidays only really cater to Christian beliefs. For example, even something as neutral as Thanksgiving has a history of blatant Christianity- it is common knowledge on what the holiday is, however not many people know that it represents the Protestant belief of humiliation and fasting in which Puritans supported. Thanksgiving was set aside for this religious belief and has since become a national holiday for all schools to dedicate time to celebrate the great harvest made off of the lands stolen away from my people and other tribes like us.
What a great disrespect it is to be represented constantly day after day until it is finally accepted as a normality for the entire country when millions of other religious groups are located in America. When a little Christian girl can take a week and a half off of school because of Christmas break, but a Muslim girl cannot do the same for celebrating Diwali because it is not nationally accepted. In high schools like mine, attendance policies impact your grades, and if you cannot attend during these religious breaks because the school runs only during the holidays of your own people, it can be discouraging.
The topic of religion is a one that should be addressed- especially in public schools where about 50.4 million students in the US attend public elementary and secondary schools. These 50 million students are easily influenced through the public school system- as it is seen as a place to learn and develop as a person. One of the many jobs that public schools should provide, other than teaching students the general curriculum that will help them succeed in life, is to expose them to the multitude of mindsets, ethnicity, religions, and diversity in general. Students should feel comfortable with their personal identity, and to discourage students from not saying the pledge or not attending school on a certain day because it’s their holiday is to oppress the future of the United States from the open-mindedness in which even the original constitution implies.
This issue is particular for me, because it’s so rare to find a school that is true to the constitution in the aspect of religion. Christianity is such a big factor for people to consider, but knowing the fact that the United States is built off of minorities, it’s important to cater to them just as much as majorities.
So, Mr. or Mrs. President, I encourage you to set more boundaries. Since the NCLB passed, more interaction with the federal and local governments have been occurring, so why not create regulations that reduce Christianity representation in all public schools?
A Native American Woman called Greg