I often tell the story that as a young child I would lay on my living room rug reading the death list from the Vietnam War. I was so sad about those deaths, and I wondered why did that have to happen. I felt a similar yank at my heart and soul as I read Anne Frank's diary, and when I learned about the violence related to the Civil Rights Movement. Why, I thought over and over again, would anyone let those events happen.
Now many years later, I can't sit back when horrible things happen. I have to speak up. I have to follow Martin Luther King, Jr's words, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." That's why I was so "vocal" on Twitter yesterday related to my belief that there is no room for White Supremacy or White Nationalists in American culture because racism and prejudice is a crime against humanity--every human deserves the right to live as well as they can with as much support as we can provide to one another. As the Washington Post so eloquently and intelligently wrote yesterday:
"Under whatever labels and using whatever code words -- 'heritage,' 'tradition,' 'nationalism' -- the idea that whites or any other ethnic, national or racial group is superior to another is not acceptable. Americans should not excuse, and I as president will not countenance, fringe elements in our society who peddle such anti--American ideas. While they have deep and noxious roots in our history, they must not be given any quarter nor any license today."
So today families weep at the senseless death of one and the tremendous harm to many others because as a nation, we have not adequately stood up to prejudice and racism. Again and again we see evidence of destruction motivated by racial prejudice and hate. We can no longer sit back and accept this. We have to speak up against all acts of racial prejudice and hate, and we have to also act to end this by advocating and acting for more equitable education and health opportunities, no tolerance for slurs and hateful acts, new laws to support greater equity and respect, and more discernment when choosing new leaders and supporting new policies and laws.
What will you do?
As for me, I will send this note to our President as I believe that President Trump and his staff need to read the ADL's report about White Supremacy and speak out against this group and the hate and prejudice they support.
I will also support a change in our Massachusetts Constitution which presently reads, in part:
Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
I will suggest that our legislators change the wording to "All people" rather than "All men" as I believe that will bring attention to this important Article and the fact that we must forward equity and respect for all people in the Commonwealth and beyond.
Further I will work with colleagues at school to foster greater equity. Last year we found a way to do this with regard to giving every child access to technology at home. We also worked at making our programming more welcoming and culturally proficient. This year we'll continue this effort by looking deeply at what worked last year, and what we can do to build upon that this year so that every child we teach feels welcome, and receives the coaching, mentoring, and support they need and desire to reach their potential.