In all honesty, it took a bit of resolve for me to stay seated for the Pledge of Allegiance. But I had made a commitment to stand in solidarity with Tay Anderson and remain seated during the Pledge.
Tay is the newly elected DPS school board member and youngest African American ever elected in Colorado history, and he had recently decided to remain seated for the pledge to protest racial injustice.
I really wanted to stand up, and to do as every other person in the room was doing, including many veterans. I wanted to avoid notice. But I decided to stay seated. I decided that since I had made this pledge, it wasn’t right for me to pick and choose when I was going to stand and when I was going to stay seated.
That’s the kind of choice that comes with privilege and is not available to people for whom liberty and justice for all, is not a given.
I was honored to be invited to speak at the Legislative Breakfast meeting of the Colorado State Association of Letter Carriers this weekend.
It was one of those invitations that came my way because of an earlier connection that I had where I had written about the late delivery of ballots and a new initiative that was causing chaos in the Postal Service country-wide. I felt I was among friends.
After the speeches, letter carriers came up to me and asked why I had remained seated. I could see the disappointment in their eyes.
I explained that I had pledged to a person, and although I personally have always received justice from this country, I was trying to represent those who are telling us that they have not. I know that for some people, my staying seated for the Pledge of Allegiance would be a dealbreaker.
I knew that I would lose significant support in this group. I understood that even though I was not intentionally disrespecting any individual person, I knew that my action would be perceived as disrespectful, offensive. That would certainly be their experience.
Letter carriers are known as the greatest door knockers and petition collectors in the country. They walk for a living. That’s what they do. They are the bearers of good and bad news; fiercely loyal. They are the strong amongst the strong.
It would be amazing to have their support as I attempt to be the first candidate to get on the ballot with volunteers and no paid signature collectors. Mine is a grass-roots candidacy, and I rely on the trust and support of others.
Again, it was hard for me to stay seated. Every part of me was telling me to rise up. Most candidates for political office walk the walk, wear the flag pin, dress the part, rise for the pledge. But I feel good about my decision.
Staying seated is a way to bring attention to injustice in general and the injustice of inattention toward others for whom rising up can be dangerous. And I learned that staying seated hurts more when it truly does hurt. In this situation, a pledge to a person won the day.
Diana Bray is a clinical psychologist, Mom and climate activist who is running for U.S. Senate.