A symbol of the future: true grit at 11 years old

Posted by Tom Camfield

What intelligence and resolve! When I was her age (11), I hadn’t yet even joined the Boy Scouts, or ridden a bicycle. I knew squat about national affairs—and I wasn’t being taught much in fifth grade at Port Townsend’s Lincoln School. It was about the time I began milking the family cow. Mariana Taylor of Baltimore, Maryland, is “standing up” in a big way (by kneeling) for injustice, and Hillary Clinton and the ACLU have her back. Sadly, I won’t be around in 20 years to see what Mariana’s doing as she moves into her 30s.

The protest conflict goes back to ­February, shortly after Baltimore middle schooler Mariana Taylor, 11, had written a paper about banished NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for an English class. She says she was asked to write about a person she admired, and she chose the quarterback. “He stood up for what he believed in even though he could get fired,” she said.

With strong beliefs about racial injustice, sexism, gay rights and President Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexico border—she was inspired by Kaepernick, who initiated the sitting/kneeling during the pre-game national anthem protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Blacks. As her middle school class stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, she stayed seated in protest. A couple of weeks later, she silently “took a knee” rather than sitting (recalling that Kaepernick began kneeling rather than sitting after a military veteran told him it was more respectful). “I kind of wanted to show people that what’s going on is not okay,” she later explained. “It is within my rights that I am allowed to kneel,” she said. 

On the third day of her taking a knee, she said, her teacher reprimanded her in front of the class and told her the rule was to stand and that she should stand to honor the good things in America, rather than worry about injustice. The teacher also mentioned having family overseas and said Mariana was disrespecting the country by kneeling, according to a detailed letter from the ACLU.

Mariana left the class in tears. “It was very upsetting that she came up and confronted me and said I was disrespecting the country,” she said. "Mariana became upset right then and there. She was allowed to leave the classroom upset, the teacher did not suggest any kind of support that she go to the guidance counselor. It wasn't until her second teacher could not calm her down that she was supportive of Mariana," Mariana's mother, Joanne Taylor, told CBS Baltimore.

The day after the teacher interceded, Mariana went back to school and knelt again. She had risen early that day to get dressed, she said, choosing an orange sweatshirt that read: “Make a Difference.” And how’s that for true grit? At 11 years old.

The incident caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in May and now, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who expressed support for the girl.

I’m impressed by many things here, not the least of which is that Hillary Clinton remains relevant and active—despite being under never-ending assault by Donald Trump, who seems dedicated to totally destroy—in the public mind and on the pages of history—this “mere” woman who actually drew millions more of the popular vote during the 1916 presidential election. I resist this vindictive, misogynistic effort of his as best I can.

“It takes courage to exercise your right to protest injustice, especially when you’re 11!  Keep up the good work Mariana,”  Clinton tweeted. And in defending kneeling NFL players, she said “That’s not against our anthem or our flag. 

“With her tweet, she was doing more than weighing in on a local school dispute. Speaking in support of kneeling puts her at odds with her political nemisis and 2016 foe, President Trump, who has waged a war of words against football players who kneel during the national anthem,”  said Adam Shaw of Fox News. (I also have utilized here articles by Donna St. George of The Washington Post and Christopher Brixo of CBS News.)

The ACLU said the Supreme Court has already established that students and teachers do not lose First Amendment rights when they enter a school. The organization is now putting pressure on the school system to review its policies. “The ACLU urges Baltimore County and all Maryland schools to review and update their policies to honor respectful student activism in the future, like silently 'taking a knee' during the Pledge of Allegiance," said Jay Jimenez, a legal associate for the ACLU of Maryland.

See here, speech by Mariana: https://twitter.com/nowthisnews/status/1029031825929162752

RELATED to this foregoing is this brief following unused portion of my previous semi-aborted blog: From an Associated Press report Aug. 10: “Trump has told associates that . . . his criticism of black NFL players who kneel during the national anthem is a political winner because it energizes his white base. He revived the matter on Friday, tweeting that the players are expressing outrage ‘at something that most of them are unable to define.’ Players have said they are protesting police killings of black men, social injustice and racism.”  They’ve defined it from the beginning, Donald, loud and clear to us who listen. It has nothing to do with disrespect for the flag—but rather protesting what you’re allowing and seemingly encouraging to happen under its auspices. 

Referring to the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” No mention there of how many constitute an assembly or where they must assemble.


TODAY’S ADDITIONAL TROLL BAIT—Donald Trump’s continuing exaggerated claims of major personal accomplishment periodically remind me of the quote “The louder he talked of his honor,the faster we counted our spoons,” which was made famous by American writer, essayist, philosopher and Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) in The Conduct of Life: A Philosophical Reading. The meaning of the comment is obvious. The spoons being alluded to are no doubt silverware, a likely target of thievery. And the more the self-anointed speaker boasted about being virtuous, the more certain he became suspect of being a crook.

Indeed a metaphor over which to ponder during this Trump era.

Actually, that Emerson quote has its roots in James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791 (and earlier in his An Account of Corsica, 1768): “I added that the same person maintained that there was no distinction between virtue and vice. Johnson. ‘Why, Sir, if the fellow does not think as he speaks, he is lying; and I see not what honor he can propose to himself from having the character of a liar. But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons’.”




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