I am a white heterosexual male. I work in a predominantly white high school. Minorities comprise about 30% of the demographic makeup. The staff is predominantly white. I can count the number of minority staff on the fingers of just one of my hands...
I know the entire staff deeply cares about students and is supportive of minority students.
I know most students do not share the views of the extreme few.
The day after Election 2016, multiple students and parents reported that statements such as “Go back to Africa” and “Go back to where you came from” were addressed toward minority students.
One of my students, who is Muslim, told me that someone posted "11/9 will be your 9/11" on his Instagram feed. He said that he is "used to that sort of thing." Lastly, he told me a couple of girls in his class where talking about how "they don't judge Muslims, but think they should be cataloged somehow."
I know this sort of thing has been happening in American schools all along but
I FEAR THAT, IF ONLY IN THEIR HEAD, THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION VALIDATED THE RADICAL VIEWS SOME AMERICANS HAVE.
And this is why...
We need to be explicit and speak out against bigotry, xenophobia, and racism in our classrooms and schools. If we do not, than who will? We cannot just wait for it all to “blow over.” It will not.
These are difficult and uncomfortable conversations to have, but we must have the courage to have them.
I talked to one of my black students this morning and asked him if he was on the receiving end of racist statements yesterday. He was.
I asked him to report any such thing to a teacher, counselor, or administrator even if he does not know who the other student(s) is/are. And, I told him WE WILL DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I think many such things do not get reported, because students do not believe that we (predominantly white staff) will do anything about it.
We must act each time and the student HAS TO KNOW we did something about it. This is how we support all our students best.
Many of us fail to realize that what happened yesterday (whether true or not) is perceived as a triumph of evil over good. Just google racism, bigotry, or xenophobia… Guess whose name will be at the top of the page? Some people I’ve talked to do not see it as a big deal.
We need to wake up and realize how big this is before someone gets hurt.
We need to stand up and be peaceful warriors for justice, hope, and love.
We have the power to change the world. Let's use it often.