The growing number of videos are becoming frightening. Young Latino children being terrified by chants of: “Build the wall”; “White-Colored” signs being posted on school water fountains. Racist graffiti inside and on the outside of school walls. Students marching down school halls with “Trump-Pence” signs, not as an exercise in civics education; but as a way of informing Black, Latino and Muslim students, that they are neither recognized, nor wanted as part of the American family.
I must first confess that it is the lack of education that has these misguided young people, and us in our present dangerous state. Their parents and the news media has informed them incorrectly that the latest expression of electoral bigotry is justified because of the: “anger of economic displacement and societal disconnection”. But the truth is that even if we eliminated all of the EPA safety and health regulations; and all protective US labor laws (most of which the Chinese already ignore); we still will not be able to undersell the Chinese in making steel; that by the way is used by the president-elect, and every other profit-first developer in this nation. If Wal-Mart, Target, et al, stock their shelves with “made in America” products only; they would close tomorrow, if they were not willing to absorb major profit loss; or dramatically raise prices. And that wall some students are chanting to be built, is not necessary; just pay US citizens $10-15/hour to pick fruits and vegetables, and accept paying $10-15 dollars for a head of lettuce!
No one: Not our president-elect, santa clause, the “tooth fairy”, the combined efforts of the “good or bad witches of the north, south, east and west; is ever going to return our nation to the 1950’s. No POTUS is going to force Black people to sit in the back of the bus; they are not going to stop LGBT folks from falling in love and marrying; and men will never regain the past control they held over the reproductive rights of women.
Education (the lack of) is the problem, but it is also the solution…
Education/Schools will need to respond to the present climate by serving as both protecting and affirming spaces for children who wear the skin, language, culture and religion, that has been targeted by this “winning” exclusionary campaign strategy. Educating parents should be part of the process for it is clear by comments being made by many adults in the news and on social media (CNN’s Van Jones eloquent explanation is one of the exceptions); that they don’t get that for large segments of the American citizenry this is more than the disappointment of an election loss. Many young and old feel that their country has not only rejected them; but intends to inflict great harm on their physical and psychological beings; one definition of entitlement could be, no matter who was elected POTUS in 2016, your ‘Americanness’ is still fully intact.
ELA and History classes are some of the best places to educate those “Build the wall” chanting and “Trump” carrying signs students. There is more than enough literature at ever grade level that speaks to stories of what happens when someone falsely believes that their personal pain and disappointment can only be relived and resolved when they inflict pain and suffering on an innocent “other”. Is that not at the core of our “anti-bullying” learning objectives? And are there not more than enough historical examples (and dedicated museums); that warn us of the savage brutality, the eventual danger and downfall of one group exploiting the labor of other human beings, the dehumanization and blaming of one group of people for an entire nation’s economic problems.
Historically, National Bullying efforts have always failed to deliver on their promises. In main because the day after the “other” is contained or removed; people wake up and realize that their spouse does not look any better; they have not grown more hair or teeth. If they were poor, unemployed and uneducated, they are still poor, unemployed and uneducated. The only option available for the National Bully Leader is distraction through war; or in the case of countries like North Korea, never-ending “states of war”.
And just as we work to protect the students whose humanity and citizenship has been marginalized in this recent political campaign; as professional educators we can’t give up on their “taunters” and “tormentors”; they are our students too, and we are called to love them, even when they fail to display love. Besides: If not us, who—their make America ugly again parents?
The improperly-bad acting students we fail to reach and teach empathy, compassion and the true meaning of citizenship; will grow up to be the adults who are chanting at future proto-fascist rallies: “Build the wall—hurt the other!”
I know we did not cause it, but we must fix it, and so get to work educators!