This is a long read, but it’s something else. ‘What Do I Say?’: Stories From the Classroom After Election Day
If the title didn’t give it away, it’s a collection of stories from American school teachers at all levels about the reactions of their students and themselves to the reality of President Trump and how they dealt with them. The overarching theme here is that while Trump obviously has his supporters (he wouldn’t have won if he didn’t), that those people let down, confused and scared the living shit out of a generation but that in spite of that, there’s still a sense of hope and good out there and that someday soon the Trump set is going to have a lot to answer for. For me, nothing illustrates that better than this one, which just decks you right in the feelings.
7th-9th grade teacher, Denver, Colorado:
I teach 7th, 8th, and 9th graders and start the day with my homeroom students (heavily Latinx, with several white and two Asian, one Native American). We opened with a check-in circle; some students were already crying, and several more started to cry while talking about how they were feeling. Several spoke of fear around deportation for friends and family. Two normally verbose kids didn’t want to speak at all. One broke down detailing how she worried that her young brother with leukemia would lose access to healthcare. One just shook his head and said “He’s just…such an asshole. Sorry.”
A few said they didn’t care either way, but one of those got out the tissues for the others. Through my own tears I said something probably hamfisted about how much I cared about them and would fight to protect them no matter the situation, but then we decided to go outside for a walk together. Before we left, one of my Latino students, Carlos, was almost incapacitated with sobbing in the bathroom talking about how “…it could all be taken away for no reason.” A quiet older white boy named Luke was there consoling him, giving him a hug. As we all walked out into a beautiful day, many of them had their arms around each other. I looked behind me and saw Luke with his arm around another crying Latino boy, Jacob, who hated the idea of what his young cousins would hear from Trump in the way he talks about women.
Ahead of me, several students found a patch of perfectly ripe raspberries (a small miracle in November in Colorado). On our way back, I told Luke I was proud of him for taking care of the younger boys and he absolutely collapsed in sobs. Carlos came up and put his arm around Luke. My own doubt and fear evaporated as I realized that what I was seeing was all we can ever hope for as people—to hold each other up when times get hard. I suppose the big takeaways from my morning are that 1) my students ended up supporting and inspiring me a lot more than I did them, and 2) no matter the president, fresh raspberries will always be delicious.