The Spirit of America: The ‘Merica Monday Controversy


picture courtesy of @schoonoverjeff on twitter

Stella Fernandes

On Saturday, November 20th, Somerset Berkley students and families received a concerning email from administration regarding the upcoming red, white, and blue themed spirit day. A part of the school-wide countdown to Case Rally, “Merica Monday” is one of Somerset Berkley’s several spirit-filled days where students are encouraged to dress up in accordance to the day’s theme. Its intention, beyond promoting creativity and a fun learning environment, is to unify the student body in preparation for one of its biggest and most exciting events of the school year. ‘Merica Monday is no different with a large part of its appeal centered around celebrating America by wearing patriotic colors, jerseys, or other USA-themed paraphernalia. However, it would seem that even something as innocent as a red, white, and blue day can become a breeding ground for hate.

 According to Somerset Berkley principal Dr. Brelsford, rumors had been circulating about several student’s intention to use this day to wear various symbols of hate speech, most notably the confederate flag. In a school-wide email, Dr. Brelsford expressed her distress over such actions. “We cannot condone symbols, clothing or props that make other students feel marginalized or uncomfortable in the school environment,” she wrote. “Any symbols of hate speech worn on Monday, or any other day, will be disciplined up to and including not being able to attend Case Rally.”

Despite the rumors, Dr. Brelsford was adamant about continuing with ‘Merica Monday as a day to celebrate and promote unity among the student body. “I encourage, endorse, and look forward to wearing my red, white and blue attire on Monday. I am confident in our students’ ability to have empathy and respect for each other and hope everyone joins me in celebrating each other and our country instead of looking for ways to divide,” she said in closing.

Although no students were reported wearing hate speech the following Monday, the tension remained palpable. Instead of coming together as Dr. Brelsford had hoped, many students chose to do just the opposite. The day quickly became one of bitter partisan politics, with some students resorting to wearing blatant propaganda on their shirts, hats, or flags. What was supposed to be a day celebrating what makes America special quickly became a stark reminder of its shortcomings. 

Some students have called into question the effectiveness of Somerset Berkley’s Spirit Week; if it fails to bring students together then why have a spirit week at all? Others seem to be looking at the bigger picture; if one student body can’t manage to put aside their differences for one day, what hope can one have for America as a whole?

All other thoughts aside, ‘Merica Monday serves as an important example as to why unity is so important to not only Somerset Berkley but to the very nation as it stands. We should aim to do better not only as students but as citizens and to treat everyone with the respect they deserve.