Let’s Change the Hard Hearts

Tonight, I am still thinking and will continue to think about the following of Trump.

I am not surprised, but I am pretty heart broken.

My sister-in-law texted me to ask how work went. Today was an interesting day at work.

I teach high school students. I have 60 juniors who are all informed enough to have opinions but not old enough to vote.

I get to teach in a diverse classroom setting. This looks like: LGBTQ, wealthy, Somali refugees, undocumented, Jewish, native, straight white cisgender males and females, mixed races, Latina/o, black and brown, Christian, immigrants, qualifying for free and reduced lunch, victims of abuse, single parent homes, involved grandparents, homeless, cabin-owning, learning disabilities, Muslim, emotional orphans, bold and vocal personalities, and tender and introverted personalities.

What I saw today at work was this: tears- from a lesbian student who fears she will not get to have a legal marriage; hugs- from students who felt visible to their peers; questions- from a student who jokingly asked if there will be good food on the ship when he is sent back to Africa; dancing- from a group of about 10 freshmen in the hallway outside their civics classroom to the song “Fuck Donald Trump”; numbness- from students walking around in disbelief; outrage- from students who felt like half the country does not want them here and possibly worse, that their lives matter less.

I spent some time alone with my 2-year-old after school today, and we prayed. I want Zadie to value kindness. I want her to see that life is more fulfilling when she has multiple perspectives to guide her. I thank God that she has this natural quality of inclusion in her character. She always wants to make sure everyone in the room has a turn. Now more than ever, I will nurture this strength in her and encourage her to always be kind.

The Jesus I am so enamored by loved the strange, broken, oppressed people around him.

I must continue to remember that this same Jesus loves the Trump voter too.

But it is time, now more than ever, to teach and preach love over hate, kindness over prejudice, reflection over ignorance, challenge over passivity.

We are all such fragile humans, and we all desperately want to belong. My students today did not feel like they belong here. They felt afraid for their literal safety in this country.

So, I return to my actual sphere of influence. My classroom. My neighborhood. My daily errands. I will continue to greet my students at the door. I will greet them by their names. I will make sure that there is a space in their lives where they feel safe from hatred. I will advocate for them. I will go and meet more of my neighbors. I will talk about the Black Lives Matter movement in real life instead of primarily through social media. I will listen- to perspectives I do not understand and to voices that I can commiserate with. And I will speak up to gently nudge prejudiced perspectives towards growth and to loudly proclaim goodness and kindness and justice over fear and hatred and outright evil.

To my incredible, creative, hard-working, joyful, hilarious, critically-thinking students: I see you. I believe you are worthy of love and belonging. Your life matters. I learn so much from you. Thank you for how you have enriched my life with everything you have taught me. I value your story. I am not afraid of you. I am so glad to know you. Let’s change the hard hearts.

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