The late Nelson Mandela wrote: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Perhaps I’m more aware now than ever, but it seems as if every day another example of hatred based on religion, race, sexual orientation, nationality, and background confronts all of us. This in your face hatred is scary and just plain wrong. I want to do my part to eliminate the idea that it’s acceptable to deface Jewish headstones; to make racial gestures or racial slurs towards another team’s players; to threaten to light a Muslim woman on fire if she refuses to remove her hijab; or to send Muslims hate letters advocating genocide. Parents, students, and teachers are all searching for ways to educate and support any individual who feels threatened. I want to protect my students and make sure they understand what resources are available to them and the rights they have while living in the United States.
Talking about these acts and others with our students and their families is the first step to reversing the acceptance of these actions. Working to find positive ways to support any individual who has become a target is another. Both of these are actions all of us can take in our classrooms and in our communities. But what I didn’t have an answer to was what resources and rights immigrant and refugee students have regarding their status and their right to a public education. Some have even expressed fear of being deported.
So below is an information sheet that discusses the limitation of immigration enforcement at certain locations. Families who are worried about potential deportation have expressed thanks and appreciation for this information.
Next is a link to the Puget Sound Educational Service District’s information page listing resources available to immigrants and families who are directly impacted by the new executive orders restricting immigration. The information provides support and seeks to allay fears about safety for themselves and their families.
As we as educators face the changing climate towards diversity and respect for differences, having resources and facts to ally some fears may help. The next question for me is “How do I advocate for acceptance and support?” Ideas?