Education Matters: Stop the hate

It’s as if the floodgates have suddenly been opened. Hate is flowing freely in schools across the nation since Donald Trump was elected.

This tweet from a parent sums it up: “Passive racism is quickly turning into open harassment now that Trump won the election.”

In our nation’s high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools, sexist vulgarities and chants of “build the wall” and “white power” echo through many halls and classrooms.

A sampling of tweets and Facebook posts from students and parents across the country, collected by The 74, a nonpartisan education news site whose name references the 74 million children in the United States, is – can I use this word? – deplorable.

“Muslim California student says she was attacked for wearing hijab.”

“Swastikas drawn on walls at Maryland middle school.”

LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District] substitute teacher told student her parents could be deported.”

“It’s disappointing to hear that four male white students told an innocent black student that she will be lynched.”

A sign posted in a school bathroom announcing a blood drive asks people to “schedule your life-saving donation.” Scrawled beneath that – “P.S.: not for ni****s.”

A comment from a student to another at an elementary school in Ann Arbor, Michigan: “Because Trump won, Jews will need to leave the country.”

At a Florida high school, signs posted above two water fountains – “colored” and “whites only.”

“Apparently, some kid in Redding thought it would be funny to pass around deportation passes to kids of immigrant families.”

From a school teacher: “I have dozens [of examples] of young girls who had their vaginas grabbed yesterday in the name of Trump.” One was 10 years old. When she asked one boy why, he said, “If a president can do it, I can too.”

“Due to multiple reports of Muslim students being harassed on campus, KU is looking for volunteers to give rides/escort students from class.”

“Saw one girl [second grade] ask another when was she leaving back to Mexico.”

“White students in DeWitt, Michigan formed a physical wall of students to block Latino kids from entering the school.”

“One parent I spoke with says kids who support Trump are telling African-American students to go back to Africa.”

“Today at middle school a 6th grader was walking behind a group of girls and said he was going to ‘grab them by the p***y’ cause of Trump.”

“A little blonde white boy just decided to tell me that since Trump is his president he can grab me by the p***y.”

Scrawled on a bathroom wall: “You black ppl better start picking y’all slave numbers – KKK 4 lyfe – go Trump 2016”

Principal in Pennsylvania admits white students were chanting: “Cotton Picker, You're a N****r, Heil Hitler.”

“I’m going to school today crossing my fingers that the Trump supporters at my table don’t try and fight me like they said they would.”

“Somebody on the bus grabbed my chest today and said it was his right.”

“Black friend had his tires slashed.”

“Yesterday two Trump supporters smashed the windows of a black student’s car and wrote, ‘Make America Great Again n****r’ in car paint.”

“Aren’t you people supposed to be sitting in the back of the bus now?”

There are hundreds more examples – and local incidents as well.

A statement by the Anti-Defamation League condemned an occurrence at UCSD, where a trolley stop defaced with graffiti included a red swastika and the painted words “Heil Trump.”

The other incident, at San Diego State University, is being investigated as a hate crime, the ADL said. At SDSU, a Muslim student wearing a hijab was robbed by men making comments against Muslims and in support of Trump.

Protests

Hundreds of San Dieguito High School Academy students displayed their courage and passion when they walked out of their third-period class last Thursday to protest Trump’s election.

According to an article in The Mustang, SDA’s school newspaper, “One of the organizers, junior Cordelia Degher, said the event was organized to ‘spread love and stand against the hatred that Donald Trump stands for and has expressed over the past year.’”

After learning of the proposed walkout, SDA principal Bjorn Paige emailed parents to inform them that students are allowed to do this, that safety is his top concern, and that the absence from class would be unexcused.

The protest, accompanied by a few dozen pro-Trump counter-protesters, was by all accounts peaceful and respectful.

“From what I could see, I was very pleased with the respect students showed each other,” said Paige [in the article]. “It really felt like a community coming together to share opinions.”

These students, who can’t yet vote, care enough about their future to make their voices heard, despite the consequences, and that’s a hopeful sign.

Several hundred marchers carrying signs at a rally last Sunday walked along Highway 101 at Encinitas Blvd., regrouped at Moonlight Beach, and chanted, “The people united will never be divided” and the familiar “Not my president.”

Although Trump actually is their next president, as one young surfer on the beach pointed out, it’s encouraging to see passion, expressed peacefully, about the future of the country.

Nonviolent protests are part of our American fabric and represent the embodiment of our right to free expression.

But instead of commending citizens for active civic engagement, Scott Pelley, anchor of the CBS Evening News, chose a different path.

After a segment on the many protests across the country on Nov. 11, and without any indication that the protesters did not vote, Pelley let loose with this snarky remark: “It does make you wonder how many of those people bothered to vote.”

In one arrogant instant, Pelley dismissed their passion, trivialized their motivation, and promulgated a completely unsubstantiated idea that none of them voted. He made it sound like they were a whiny bunch of sore losers only looking for a reason to stop traffic.

Exit polls

Data from exit polls, if anyone believes them any more, from the New York Times, if anyone believes them any more, show that 29 percent of Latinos supported Trump.

However, Latino leaders, according to NBC News, don’t accept that 29 percent figure, saying only 18 percent voted for Trump.

Still … 18 percent were okay with Trump’s anti-immigrant stance?

Eighty-four percent of Trump voters support deportation for illegal immigrants, and 86 percent want a border wall with Mexico.

In another demographic from the exit poll, 24 percent of Jewish voters went for Trump. Although not a large number, still ….

Did they understand how Trump’s rhetoric has given rise to virulent anti-Semitic hate speech? Jews, along with all other minorities, are now being targeted.

It’s not surprising, given how white supremacist groups mobilized on behalf of Trump.

The American Nazi Party and the KKK all supported Trump. This from the Times of Israel: “Former KKK leader David Duke, an avowed racist and anti-Semite, endorsed Trump and publicly urged followers to vote from him in the presidential elections. After Trump’s shock victory, he claimed credit for helping to secure the Republican’s win.”

America, love it or leave it

To those of us old enough to remember the turbulent 60s, this feels vaguely familiar.

During that pivotal decade, Vietnam War protesters were gassed, jailed, spit upon and verbally and physically harassed. Cries of “My country right or wrong” and “America, love it or leave it” were part of the daily news.

So were attacks on civil rights marchers and supporters, many of them deadly.

There was social upheaval then, but somehow this feels different. Trump ran a campaign that seemed focused on intolerance, hate and isolationism. It was all about fear of “the other.”

Some (not all) of my Republican friends voted for Trump, and none of them are racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, uneducated bigots.

To borrow from Trump’s own colorful language, “Some, I assume, are good people.” I know that to be true.

These people certainly didn’t support Trump because he made fun of the disabled, war veterans like John McCain, or Carly Fiorina’s face.

They surely didn’t support him because he bragged about assaulting women, belittled widely respected national figures, or called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers.

Can these followers be persuaded to denounce the hate speech, especially in our schools where it’s directed at young children?

The president-elect has unleashed a torrent of repressed hatred and intolerance, and legitimized it. He can stanch the flow of such horrific language in our schools, by condemning it in the strongest possible way. But so far, crickets.

In our schools, no minority is safe – girls and women (who technically are not a minority), Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, gays, the disabled – all are targets now of shameful bullying and vicious verbal attacks.

Once sanctioned, it’s spread like an infectious disease through social media.

This trauma, psychologists say, can damage children emotionally and scar them for life.

“These things stay with us,” said Dr. Ken Druck, local author and internationally recognized expert on trauma and traumatic loss. “How we protect kids from this and how we send the antidote message is a critical issue that’s on the table right now for our nation, for our kids, for our world.”

We know Trump’s top action items – attack immigrant rights, gay rights, women’s rights, religious freedom, the environment, and health care.

But first please, just stop the hate.

 

– Sr. Education Writer Marsha Sutton can be reached at suttonmarsha@gmail.com.

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