Today, November 8th, 2016 is the most important Election Day, thus far, of our lives. Now, we may have said that in 2008 because we were full of hope and change and the possibility of having our first Black President. And so yeah, back then, it was the most important Election Day of our lives. But now, we stand at the brink of apocalyptic proportions.
And that’s an understatement.
This post is not to try and convince you to vote for Hillary or die, because you already know that you must vote for Hillary or we will all die…right?
This post is to help you think about the aftermath of Election Day. What will the results mean for our students? Listen, you will have little time to deal with the outcome before faced with a classroom full of students who will either be stunned and scared or apathetically relieved. But make no mistake, the entire world will be watching Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and so will 1.1million of our students in NYC.
And so, let’s get prepared with a plan a) a Clinton win, plan b) a Trump win, plan c) a repeat of 2000 with no winner and we gotta go to the Supreme Court, plan d) your escape route out of the country just in case Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower comes to fruition…ummm, you get my point. (This is a great novel by the way)
Have you thought about what you’re going to do with your students, colleagues, parents? Any of those 4 options may damn well come true and we have to be there for our students, big and small, from pre k to 12th graders, regardless of what content area we teach.
The Rolling Stone has a great piece on the Trump Effect: How hateful rhetoric is affecting American School Children,
How did it manifest in the kids?
There were children who broke down in tears in class. Immigrant students are everywhere. Two-thirds of the teachers reported that their immigrant students were under stress. Kids were hearing horrible things like, “I think that we should kill all the Muslims.” Marginalized students are feeling very vulnerable. And then there was this weird finding: African-American students who were concerned that they were going to be “sent back to Africa.” At first I thought this was an outlier; then I read it five more times.
What are the bullied kids saying, in response to this?
I think they feel, a) that the ideals of the country aren’t being lived up to, but b) on a more basic level, “Why don’t people like us?” You have instances where a child gets called a name by a complete stranger. It’s heartbreaking.
It’s almost like children are learning new ways to hurt each other.
Yes. What stood out to us is that the character of bullying was changing from the election rhetoric. There were many stories of a group of kids ganging up on one child and chanting, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” or “Build a wall!” or “Deport him!” And this kind of behavior peaked in middle school. Trump is the perfect candidate for a seventh-grade kid; bad behavior and repeating what Trump has said seems to be a part of testing limits.
And this is only one part of the story.
I know on my social media feed there has been a big push for 1) Blacks to abstain from voting, 2) Millennials to abstain from voting 3) To write in a protest vote or vote for Stein or the other guy and my least favorite 4) To do nothing, because even though Trump is the anti christ it doesn’t mean Clinton is an acceptable candidate, which leads us to do what, exactly?
So here are some of our thoughts;
We hope that you have continued to build relational trust in your classrooms because we’re going to need our families now more than ever, especially if we have a Trump presidency. We’re going to have to comfort the possible fears that our students may have. You may want to introduce your students to meditation or yoga to help reduce anxiety and stress.
If we have a Clinton Presidency, how do we ensure she keeps her promises to Black people? We can engage our students in an analysis of the Black Lives Matter Platform. We can begin a discussion on how we heal after such an excruciatingly long and hard election cycle.
And we can’t forget that it will be traumatic for all of us, to see the Obama’s leave the White House. I think little Kameria Crayten sums it up for all of us.
So listen, you take care of yourself as you sit through, hopefully, a really good PD on Election day. You make sure you make it to your voting polling place, bring a few people with you who can vote and set up a self care plan for the night and the morning after. I suggest you go to the bank and get some cash money just in case you have to get you and your family out of the country unexpectedly.
And last but not least, be intentional about your classroom experience and environment the next day. Emotions will be running high, yours, your colleagues, parents and your students. You don’t have to have all the answers. You just need to create the space and environment for your students to feel safe and express their thoughts and feelings.
Deep Thinkers Only.