I could feel my ears burning and my cheeks flush as I heard the announcers introduce the national anthem singer.
I prepared to kneel, acutely aware of the fact that I would be sticking out like a sore thumb, on the track, in front of internationally streamed media, representing my team.
But this is bigger than me.
This is bigger than you.
And it’s bigger than my coerced participation in standing to face a flag for the national anthem.
I fight for my own freedom, every day, in a country whose healthcare systems are so broken that they often refuse to treat me like a human.
Where I cannot get crucial medical procedures or medications covered, because I am transgender.
Where my rights as a trans person end the moment I enter a restroom.
Where police can enforce laws based on where I get to pee.
Where a legal system does not protect me against housing or job discrimination or harassment.
I fight for the freedom of my friends and family.
In a country where police can murder young black children and get paid leave, but poor people are incarcerated daily for trying to make ends meet in a broken system.
In a country where 194 black people were killed by the police in 2016 alone, most often without legal repercussion. In a country where a white person’s right to kill a black person because they are afraid of their existence supersedes the black person’s right to exist.
I fight for the freedom of women whose rapists are released from jail early or never jailed at all.
Where women are still paid substantially less than men, and still seen as underqualified.
A country where women are denied the right to make choices regarding their own bodies.
A country where a bigot like Donald Trump is seriously considered for our next President.
I will not stand to face the flag because, despite the citizens fighting in our armed forces for our country, Americans are still oppressed and coerced and left without options.
And that is not freedom.
I will not stand to face the flag because none are free until all are free.
I will not face the flag or pledge my allegiance to America in this world as it stands.
Because I am outraged.
Because I am heartbroken.
Because I know better.
Because we are not yet free.
So I pledge allegiance to a united front.
To my trans and queer family.
To my black friends and family.
To my team.
To all of the people of color fighting to survive in America.
To those who are coerced and oppressed by a country that refuses to acknowledge and support them and their worth.
When we have a flag for those things, I will gladly stand and face it with pride.
The Smacktivist #365