It’s been a rough week.
Certainly an understatement. I know we are hurting, scared, worried.
My emotions have kept me mostly mute, and I struggled with what to write today. I’ve started over five times. Then, I found something that helped me put thoughts into words, so I’m going to try. I’m also going to ask you to read something.
Before you read any further, know this: I am not a Trump supporter, nor am I a Clinton supporter. I am an American invested in finding solutions to the issues that divide us as a people.
I am an Army mom whose son pledged to die fighting for my rights, and yours.
I am a Christian, and I’m pretty tired of being called intolerant, a homophobe, a racist, a bigot, and the like. My life speaks the opposite every single day.
I am a teacher. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, refugee, documented and undocumented, children enter my door every August, expecting to be taught critical thinking skills and to grow as readers, writers, and communicators. I am good at my job.
I love these children. These children are our hope.
But I wonder: What kind of examples have we set for them lately? This election brought out the worst in so many of us.
I’m reminded of the TV commercial a few years ago where the little boy follows in the shadow of a man all day. Everything the man does, the little boy does. Cussing, smoking, drinking. I can’t remember, but probably giving people the bird, too.
I’m reminded of the book Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Mathew Quick where Leonard follows adults around — on the subway, through the mall, on the way to work –to see if anyone is truly happy.
What have our children seen in us this week?
Have they learned to graciously concede, even when they do not win or get their own way? Hillary Clinton set a beautiful example when with composure and grace she delivered her concession speech. Of Trump, she said “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” She urged unity. Not the protests and especially not the looting.
I believe we can be better than we have been.
I read this post last night, and my students and I read it together today. I urge you to read it and pass it along: What a Gay, Muslim, Pakistani-American Immigrant Learned Traveling to Rural Alaska a Week before the Election.
Riaz Patel’s position gives me hope. What if every American “decided [they] needed to understand the election from a perspective other than [their] own”?
Imagine what we could learn “by listening. Listening. Not waiting to speak. Not waiting to disagree or refute.”
In our lightening-like, digital world, we have lost the art of listening.
What are the possibilities if we could all remember to practice Patel’s idea to “PERSONIFY the people we think we hate”?
I agree with him, maybe “Grey is the only way.”
Every American had skin in this election. Every American has skin in the country we choose to create.
We have to figure this thing out, or we may destroy one another.
The generalities and absolutes we have seen during the election — and this past week — are opportunities for us to teach children that NOT ALL is sometimes more important than some.
My second period made a NOT All list as a way of thinking through the stereotypes and bias we see and experience every day:
Not all Mexicans are illegal
Not all white people are rednecks
Not all black people rob
Not all cops shoot black people
Not all Asians are smart
Not all Mexicans cut grass
Not all Asians are good at math
Not all white people are good at English
Not all Blacks have food stamp cards
Not all Blacks like chicken or watermelon
Not all Blacks are drug dealers
Not all Mexicans are rapists
Not all Muslims are terrorists
Not all Hispanics speak Spanish
Not all rednecks are racist
Not all black men are deadbeats
Not all Hispanics are Mexican
Not all Mexicans distribute drugs
Not all blondes are dumb
Not all black girls are ‘ratchet’
Not all black boys are gangsters
Not all Asian parents are strict
Not all Whites are drug addicts
Not all boxes are square
Not all boxes are square. And I think we can do better in proving that is so.
Enjoy the weekend, my friends. Joy cometh in the morning. Psalms 30:5
Tagged: Readers Writers Workshop