Just because we’re kids does not mean our voices should not be heard.

Share story

This fall, at Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Seattle, our fifth-grade class chose to kneel at a school assembly during the Pledge of Allegiance. We did this because we feel that people of color are being treated poorly in our country. Taking a knee has influenced other classes to be brave and join us.

We think that the way people of color are treated right now is very unfair. You should not be treated differently because of the color of your skin.

The Pledge of Allegiance states “liberty and justice for all,” and right now we don’t feel there is liberty and justice for all. We don’t want to stand for something that we don’t believe in, and just because we’re kids does not mean our voices should not be heard.

‘My take’

Got something to say about a topic in the news? We’re looking for personal essays with strong opinions. Send your submission of no more than 500 words to oped@seattletimes.com with the subject line “My Take.”

One classmate of color said she doesn’t think she has the “freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These are rights that most white American citizens enjoy. However, when a kid is saying this, something needs to be done.

Many patriotic Americans think we show ignorance. They think that we disrespect our country by kneeling, but when we defend our fellow people, we do consider ourselves true patriots.

Being true citizens is what we want. We hope people point to us and say, “Those kids are standing up for what they believe in.”

As students in America, we all want to feel safe, successful and appreciated, and we can’t do that if students feel threatened or strongly affected by discrimination. That’s why we want to peacefully protest this problem. We are not trying to disrespect our country or flag, we are trying to make a point. As a Thurgood Marshall student said, “We’ll kneel for people of color, we’ll kneel for injustices in America, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”

We want people outside of our school to know that anyone can take a stand — even kids at Friday assemblies. This issue doesn’t just affect adults, it affects all of our country, even kids, like us. We want people to see this and do something like this to take a stand. It doesn’t matter what race you are, as long as you are committed to your cause.

Thurgood Marshall Principal Katie May said: “We encourage our students to be critical thinkers, and they are learning ways to use their voices to stand up for causes that are important.” Our teacher, Brianne Damitio, thinks this is a good action as long as we know why we are doing it.

Our fifth-grade class wants to make a point that problems like racial discrimination must be stopped. Your life should not be defined by the color of your skin, your gender or your country of origin. Everybody deserves to be free, and feel safe and happy in our country.