Racism isn’t debatable; it’s wrong

I generally try to avoid politics in my blog. When it comes to education issues, I do not fully agree with either the Democrats or Republicans (or the Libertarians, Socialists or any other party).

To say that unions are good or bad or that Common Core is good or bad or that charter schools are good or bad oversimplifies complex issues and blocks real progress.

Most people on both sides of education policy debates want us to do a better job preparing our children for school, work and civic life, and none of us has figured out how. So we are stuck debating, trying to craft the right incentives, trying to figure out how to teach all kids the right stuff.

One issue is not open for debate, though, and that is the need to make sure all of our children feel safe and welcome in our public schools. So the aftermath of last week’s election obligates me to post something political.

Racist messages at schools like Maple Grove Senior High — where racist graffiti tying President-elect Trump’s name with #whiteamerica (and worse) appeared in bathroom stalls — and DeWitt Junior High in Michigan — where white students formed a wall to block minority students Wednesday morning — are unacceptable. And those are just the beginning. Black students at UPenn were added to a racist out-of-state group chat. Racist slurs were written on the sidewalk at the University of St. Thomas.

Donald Trump’s campaign messages about building a wall with Mexico, deporting illegal immigrants and banning immigration by Muslims have clearly empowered some young people to brazenly express racism toward their peers.

We must act together to put a stop to it.

Those who support Trump’s ideas need to recognize that while many thoughtful adults can take a stand against immigration and still treat actual immigrants (or anyone nonwhite) with respect, teenagers and young adults (and some older adults) cannot manage this distinction. They process in black and white, and if immigration is bad, they rationalize, then immigrants are bad, and then it’s OK to hurt them.

Students today — especially middle school and high school kids — already bully each other on social media and at school over appearance, relationships, friendships at alarming rates. We cannot give them more reasons to torment each other.

Mr. Trump said on 60 Minutes last night that he does not support these racist attacks. That message needs to be reiterated by him and by leaders in every level of government until our kids understand. No matter how you feel about immigration policy, every person is a human being and deserves respect. Every student in our schools deserves to feel valued and protected, and they deserve the chance to learn.

Take responsibility and denounce racism. Then we can talk about how to move forward as one nation.


2 thoughts on “Racism isn’t debatable; it’s wrong

  1. Nice post.

    Intrigued at people calling out specific schools. The level of racism is happening in our district, too. It has been a hurtful week on many levels. I have wondered of the tenor of other schools, but I know Irondale has some wounds and we happen to just not be in the news.

    Thank you for your work in asking people to join us in denouncing racism. Your writing and work matters

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Erika

    I sent the below email this morning, with several cosigners. Waiting for a response.

    Dear Mr. [superintendent], principals, and members of the XX School Committee;

    We are writing to you as a parents of children in the XX Schools, proactively after the recent election, to ask that you continue to foster a spirit of inclusion and tolerance for all the students at your schools. We moved to XX largely for the excellent public schools, and we have been very satisfied. However, we are aware that many students may feel anxious or worried after the election, and some may worry about being bullied based on recent political rhetoric. Just yesterday, there was a report of students yelling “Donald Trump” and “Build a wall!” in a class, and there have also been reports of students yelling “Donald Trump” at other students who supported Clinton’s candidacy.

    Our hope is that we can make sure every XX student feel welcomed and supported by every other person within the schools, but your leadership will be essential. We have every confidence in your ability and commitment to this but felt we should reach out and offer encouragement. It might be helpful to think about some school-wide or even district-wide activities designed to build a sense of community for everyone as well as outreach to more vulnerable groups. This all seems consistent with the messages each of our children have received at your schools.

    Thank you for your time and all your hard work in making our children’s schools safe, warm, tolerant and inclusive.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s