Why This Matters…
I have not followed Twitter much today, but through friends and family I have heard about calls for Secretary Clinton’s imprisonment and celebrations about when all of the immigrants will get deported.
I have also watched as people who I love and thought I knew post vile, hateful dreck in their social media feeds. And, hey, why shouldn’t they – our President-Elect leads by example. For months now, I have stood by, silently, while people I call friend questioned why an African American man at our campground could have a nice boat like he owned. My guess is that, like his RV, he worked hard for it or went in debt like the rest of it to have something nice. Clearly left unspoken was that this man didn’t deserve to have that boat.
I have held my tongue as people I call friend have referred to the coloreds, Mexicans, and Gooks (they group all Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Hmong in the same group). When I point our that they are Korean I hear back, “What difference does it make?” followed by some horrific sing-songy imitation of someone speaking “Oriental.”
But I don’t know that I can continue to bite my tongue. Not anymore. Not after hearing about the racial taunting going on in the school community in which I work.
To be clear…
This is not about who won or lost an election. If Democrats take off their blue-colored glasses, they would see a flawed candidate who, despite her experience, was reviled by many across the country. They would see that a chance to make “Herstory” ended when the Debbie Wasserman-Schultz “Superdelegates” upended the democratic process to secure a result that had evaded Secretary Clinton eight years ago.
As the election trudged on, and we constantly heard about “uneducated white men,” I reflected on how I might have contributed to people’s feelings about the elite. You see, I am fiercely proud of my education, and the hard work I put into becoming a Principal. But I am more proud of my sister, Wendy, who has risen to great heights with “only” a high school diploma and so much incredible life and work experience. I am also fiercely proud of my youngest sister, who despite her hatred for school the first time through, went back to earn a degree and work an incredible job. I have also long advocated for a return of vocational and technical education opportunities in a day and age when people only focused on four year degrees.
And then today happened…
During the course of my working day today, I have heard about students in the district where I work being told to “Go back to Mexico” despite the fact that they have attended school in our district since 4K. Some families feel so scared that they have made no contingency plans, that they want us to know that if we just stop seeing them, their family has packed up and returned to Mexico before being forced to return. I have heard school-age boys crow, “Lock that bitch up!” I read in horror as a colleague with an opportunity to console a frightened student instead tried to help them understand how there is a difference between legal immigration and being a drain on a community’s resources. Today was not the day for that conversation.
I have spent most of my day fighting back tears, head in my hands, trying to figure out how to support our students who need us the most.
Tomorrow I’ll write more about what I see in the public school I serve, hoping that some of the people filled with such hatred and venom will see that there are no easy answers for either “side.” Today, I make this promise to the families I serve: I pledge to do my best to keep your students safe and help them feel secure and loved. I promise to fight back against bullying and racism even though some might feel they now have permission to act this way. I promise to serve and protect.