That title may seem more exciting than what I actually have planned. This isn’t about Star Trek or flying cars. It’s about an article I shared yesterday concerning children in the U.S. and the fear being pumped into them by this election season.
When some people listen to Donald Trump and his ideas on immigration and his opinions on other countries and cultures, it’s terrifying to children from those backgrounds. Trump’s rhetoric gives the bullies of the world ammunition and justification; they’re not bullies anymore there just agreeing with a presidential candidate. Think about that sentence. The taunting and harassment of other students is becoming justified by the role model that blusters on their TV screens every day.
Personally, I know how difficult school can be for someone who feels like an outcast. My health issues, my weight, my less-than-social behavior all made me feel isolated from people my own age. I still struggle to connect with people my age, I still struggle to connect with people period. And I was lucky.
Other than my weight, the things that made me an outcast were invisible. My skin didn’t announce to the world I’m different than you. Now I’m not saying white children have it easy; they don’t but they have one less thing to worry about than children of color. And right now in the current political climate children of color don’t just have it hard, they’re targets.
I read an article from a pro-Trump guy who said he couldn’t see children telling an African American boy that he’s going to be sent back to Africa or that some are calling Muslim students “Isis” as a nickname. I say that man who wrote that article is blind to how cruel people can be especially when they hear adults using those exact same terms and names.
There is no profession I respect more than our teachers. I would have loved to have become one myself but for various reasons that wasn’t really possible. Our teachers have a hard enough job educating students in a world where kids would rather be staring at their telephone, where their attention spans seem to have gotten shorter, and where they feel infinitely entitled. So to add to that we have this wave of hate that’s being passed down seemingly from the top.
Trump doesn’t think about this. His tactics as I’ve said before are strategic and purposeful. Sewing discord and fear amongst citizens is a viable way to get into power. It’s loathsome and despicable but viable. He’s not thinking about teachers and students. He’s not thinking about the people tasked with making sure our future is secure by teaching our children. Teaching isn’t just reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s making sure these kids leave their school years with the ability to be upstanding, productive people. Good people. Maybe it’s just me but you can’t produce good people in an atmosphere poisoned by unadulterated, unfiltered hate. These children need to grow up knowing this world isn’t black or white, whether we’re talking about skin color or just the view of it. This world is very colorful and you have to embrace that to be happy.
When I talk about the future I think wouldn’t it be nice if a generation is born and the only thing they see when they look at another person is a human being? That’s it. They don’t see a color, religion, sexual orientation, or even a gender. A human being is a human being and that’s what children should see. How amazing would it be if a white child wasn’t afraid of a black child because of something he heard his parents say? Or a Muslim student can study in peace and not worry about being called a terrorist? If a gay student can be himself or herself without being made fun of or attacked? If a little girl who may have been technically born a little boy can use the bathroom she feels safe in? How amazing would that be?
Of course, the stark reality is none of that will ever happen. Our future is what it is and always will be. We live in a world where too many old dogs can’t learn new tricks. And the old dogs give birth to litter after litter of pups that think and feel the same way. It’s an unbreakable cycle. The best we can do is set good examples. Maybe an essay like this can make someone stop and think before they use certain words and convey certain messages to their children and grandchildren.
I believe all people are born equal with blank slates and it’s the people that came before them that’ll shape the messages scrawled out on those little chalkboards. Every person that child comes into contact with will leave a mark on that board and as people who want a future we have to write the best messages we can on the slates.
We need to make sure the children of the future grow up cautious but not fearful. We do this by helping them develop their decision making skills. These decision making skills can’t involve the physical or ideological attributes of other people. They need to know humans of any color and of any religion have the capacity to do good and bad. And no one should be disqualified automatically for the way they look or the way they think.