“Struggle is a never ending process,” said Coretta Scott King. “Freedom is never really won– you earn it and win it in every generation.”
And so it was on September 11, 2001, when America woke up from its gentle malaise to a very uncertain new world order and a decade of endless war.
Similarly, the election of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, has scorched the landscape for– among many others– our children of color.
Our first African American president will be replaced by a blustering bully appealing to the worst nature in all of us. 3 steps forward. 5 Steps back.
As educators, we don’t know what it is all ultimately going to mean. But we know what he has said. He called Mexicans “rapists”, advocated for a ban on all Muslims, argued that a federal judge was unqualified because he was a Mexican, and questioned the citizenship (and thus the legitimacy) of our first African American President throughout his two terms of service. “Why won’t he show us his birth certificate?” asked Trump– as if he were citizen/slavemaster.
And of course, he promised to send millions of immigrants back to whatever hopelessness they fled to get here. “I’m gonna build a wall,” he promised. “I’m gonna send em all back.” That’s what our children heard. That’s what they saw. And for many, he’s talking about their parents and grandparents.
And we know what his actions mean too.
His first appointments as President-elect included a governor who passed some of the nation’s most discriminatory laws against the LGBT community in his home state; an avowed white nationalist; a Southern KKK sympathizer who has challenged the Constitutional principle of birthright citizenship; and a retired general who has echoed Trump’s own threat to ban an entire religion from US soil.
All of this…while the nation’s most respected media outlets intensified their light on conflict of interest laws, international business ties, and the specter of an American president mired in graft and corruption. Trump’s response is to rail against the messenger. Indignant. Entitled.
And even children begin to wonder why he wanted to be President. Why he wants to be King.
We can’t predict the future or how our nation will move to protect its citizens. We only know what we know: that the civil rights of others can be sold for votes. And in the 15 days since the red states spoke— we know, that Coretta Scott King was right. Again.