Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

27 May 2009

Feminist Parenting: Patriotism

Patriotism. This could be a bigger issue than when to tell the kid how babies are made. At least with that, there are books with diagrams and science to fall back on. But patriotism...ay!

This issue came to light a few weeks ago as she was practicing for her spring concert. "A-M-E-R-I-C-A! I love America!" over and over for the weekend. I have to admit it was cute, but I asked her why she loved America. "Mom, it's just the song!"

Oh, hell no!

"You know why I love America? Because it's one of the few places where anyone can stand up for what they believe in and make things change." And on I went with the obligatory Stanton, King, Obama and Huerta talk. Seriously, her history teachers will either love me or hate me.

As a baseball fan I know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner. I sing it EVERY single time I hear it. Or at least I try to...Ya know sometimes the song just needs to be sung not interpreted. Anywho, so I feel like I'm a pretty patriotic person. I just want my daughter to know why we love this country, not a blind love.

It's ironic that some people who most loudly wave their patriotism scoff at those of us who dare to protest or question why things are the way they are. And my patriotism is grounded in that change, questioning and protest.

I know feminist parents who don't want their kids to even say the Pledge until they are old enough to truly understand it. I'm not at that stage, but rather I want her to question the things she's told "just are." Well at least from people who aren't her parents.

2 comments:

While I was recently visited friends in Seattle, I got in on the first few minutes of their daughter's school day. They were having an assembly, and I was shocked to hear them begin the Pledge. In a liberal school. In liberal Seattle! My friend said they reinstated it after 9/11, and the kids don't *have* to say it, but of course virtually all do.

I was shocked partly because we *don't* say the pledge in our school, and I live in Appalachia (in a liberal college town, granted). My 9-year-old doesn't even know the words to it. I'm good with that.

I don't know why, but your layout is looking very strange to me this morning, grey type on a grey background. I had to highlight the text to read it.

Given what has just come out about the new pictures showing American soldiers raping Guantanamo detainees, I think that any feminist needs to have patriotism be more than, "Love it or leave it!" We need to inculcate that ability to question authority fairly early, and that means talking about the ways our country is great, and the ways in which it still has a long way to go, and what we can do to help that process. To me, loving my country means calling it on its shit, and making it be a place I can be proud of.