Friends, yesterday we held space. Today, we work.
I got an email from a teacher I used to coach who works in the south. His class is about a 50/50 split in which presidential candidate they and their families supported. The pro-DT half told him they are not racist or sexist and they hate that about the president-elect, but they are pro-gun rights and anti-choice, so he had to be their guy. What should he do, he asks? How does he acknowledge their rights and beliefs and still address that we are in a real problem with regard to how people are already beginning to treat one another on Day 1? I don’t know if I said enough. I don’t know if I said the right things. But this is what I said and this is what I believe and this is what I will fight for until every child in my reach and beyond is treated with respect for who they are. Because that is what we do. #theteachertribe
You are in a tough place, friend, and I really appreciate you both being so thoughtful and taking the time to reach out.
A disclaimer, I’m red hot about this issue right now. Yesterday I was sad, today I am mad. Here’s why.
I’m born and bred Bay Area, California; pro-choice and pro-gun control is weaved into my DNA. And, if there was a pro-choice, pro-gun control candidate running for office that said and did the kind of things our president elect has done and said it would not phase me to vote for the other person. To me, basic decency and humanity and the freedom for people to be who they are without worry comes way above anything else, even things that are part of what I believe at my core.
The families who voted for Trump aren’t necessarily racist or sexist or xenophobic. But what they are is complicit. Complicit in the act of putting people, children, in harm’s way. Here’s what I mean: go on to Facebook and look up Shaun King. He is posting post after post of people’s experience with Day 1 of a President Elect Trump. This twitter feed is another place to look https://twitter.com/i/moments/796417517157830656
And this is just a drop in the bucket.
So, no, they aren’t the ones saying all this. They aren’t the ones targeting or harassing or spewing hatred or inciting violence. And, you know that prose we all use when we teach the Holocaust, “First they came for the…then they came for the…then they came for me and there was no one left to speak up for me?” That’s what we’re seeing here. And as long as we allow our privilege to say, “Shit, man, this sucks, but let’s just get on with things and let this go,” then we make it ok for a man who has been called to appear in a pre-trial motion next month for raping a teenager. Women in double digits coming forward talking about how they’ve been assaulted by him. Hundreds of wage workers left destitute because he didn’t pay his bills. This man will be choosing FBI directors and EPA regulators and Supreme Court Justices. And everyone who voted for him will be complicit for the fall out. Just as they are complicit in what children are facing in schools and beyond every day because the adults in this country have made it ok. Truth be told, even those who didn’t vote for him will be complicit if they stay silent. And by they, I mean me too.
Now, how do you have this conversation with kids, you ask? This is the part where you have to take the idea of complacency and bystanders and present it to kids (and your colleagues) in a way that doesn’t make them run away and tell their parents you are insulting them, but does make them think. Think about what we tolerate because “it isn’t happening to me.” We can’t love our country if we don’t love our countrymen, AND our country women, says Senator Cory Booker. And I couldn’t agree more. And loving them means putting that belief in the greater good of humanity above any other policy or political belief. Every. Single. Time.
You have a task in front of you that is daunting as it is important. You are a warrior, friend, and I’m so proud of you for digging deep and stepping into the conversation. You won’t resolve anything but you will offer another very, very important perspective that will seed in their brains and, God willing, grow over time. That is all you can expect from yourself. But do not think that is a small thing. In fact, it is everything.
Big love to you,