Hello from the other side of the aisle,
Thank you for clicking whatever link brought you here. There are some things I need to ask of you now. I’m going to lay out the assumption that I’m making in writing this blog post first, because I think, especially in this time of deep division, that may help us talk to one another.
I know that not every Trump voter is a bigot. I know that people had reasons to vote for Donald Trump that were grounded in belief about issues like the economy, foreign policy, change agency, trustworthiness, a deep belief in the Republican Party, and more. And I trust that if you were willing to click this link, you are one of those people. Thank you for reading with an open mind and an open heart.
What I need to say is that we need you right now. All over this country, we are seeing acts of hate speech, harassment and intimidation. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports over 80 such acts on college and K-12 campuses since Election Day. And that aligns with what I am hearing from friends and former students who are experiencing similar things. In case you haven’t heard of specific examples, here are a few:
- At U. Penn, African-American first year students were added to a GroupMe text and sent racist, hateful words and images including photos of lynchings.
- At Shasta High School in California, a white male student handed out fake “deportation” letters to students of multiple ethic backgrounds.
- 7th graders at a Royal Oaks, MI Middle School chanted “Build that Wall” in the cafeteria while students of multiple ethnicities were in the room.
- There were multiple acts of racism, sexism and homophobia at Council Rock North High School, just outside of Philadelphia, on the day after Election Day.
And these are but a few. And again, this aligns with stories that I have been hearing from friends and former students from all over the country that aren’t getting reported.
You didn’t mean for this to happen. I know. This isn’t what you wanted when you went into the ballot booth. You care about all the kids you teach, regardless of race, sexuality, religion. You count black children, Muslim children, immigrant children, Jewish children, LGBTQ children among some of the favorites you’ve ever taught.
But this is happening. And it is terrifying. And we all need to come together to stop it.
So I’m asking you for a few things.
- Make an affirmative statement that your class is a safe space for all children. Here are some examples:
- This the note that the SLA educators wrote and hung so that every kid saw it as they walked in Wednesday morning. We also read it aloud in our classes and talked about what it meant with all our kids.
- An English teacher had this note on her door this week for all her kids:
My English teacher put this on her door today.. pic.twitter.com/ZYGiPtgiCJ
— Natalie Gomez (@natssfatss) November 10, 2016
- Speak out against this. The people who feel most fragile right now need the people who voted for President-Elect Trump to have their backs. Tweet @realDonaldTrump and ask him to speak out against the rise in hate speech in our schools this past week. Contact his transition office by telling your story here. Sign the petition started by a fellow educator asking President-Elect Trump to speak out.
- And please, don’t minimize this or pretend it isn’t happening, or try to explain it away or say that there are bad things happening on both sides. Not now. The orderly transfer of power to a Trump administration has to mean that our all our children – especially the kids who have been made to feel unsafe this week – have to know that their teachers believe in them and want them to be safe. I have to be honest here. I have spoken to many Trump supporters in the last few days, and I am disheartened by the willingness to explain what is happening away. Please don’t do that.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for what I truly hope will be your action. Thank you for teaching all our children. We have a lot of healing to do as a nation. I hope it can start with all of us in our schools.