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“As a Teacher of Color, I’m Experiencing Racism from Students and that’s Not Okay”: A Facebook Chat on the “Trump Effect”

After Trump Jr. suggested [in a recent article*] that women who “can’t handle” workplace sexual harassment should “just quit” – he offered this solution: “You should go maybe teach kindergarten,” he said. 😵 Are teachers not part of the workforce?! 😤 Are we not professionals!?😡

I am tagging you because I genuinely want you to weigh in on what our collective can do in the face of such slander? #TeachersAreProfessionals

This is the Facebook status I was tagged in last Friday. What ensued was a conversation amongst teachers from New York and Denver about everything from the dismal perception of our profession, to the lack of teachers of color in school districts across this country, to the negative impact that the rhetoric of the presidential campaign is having on our students and us. The frustrations were high, to put it mildly. I was shocked by what some of my colleagues were experiencing and as you read this conversation, I am certain you will be, too.

I told you all when I wrote my first blog that this platform with which I’ve been blessed will be used to give a voice to those people and issues that need to have a voice, but, for whatever reason, are not. I invite you to read the following thread and speak up and speak out about anything that resonates with that still small voice within you. If we’re all waiting on someone else to do something, nothing will ever get done. Given the state of our country, that is simply not an option.

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“I think it’s completely asinine to believe that workplace harassment (of any kind and in any place) should be accepted or expected if you’re a woman. I think it’s also ignorant to believe that being a teacher somehow prevents such things from happening, as if being a teacher means you’ll never face harassment. Also… let’s be real: none of them would last more than a few months as a teacher.” – Carey Ma, teacher, NYC

“As a TOC [teacher of color] I’m experiencing racism from students- that’s not ok.” – Jo Zi, teacher, Denver

“The “Trump” effect is affecting my students and parents. I am so sorry your students are being disrespectful, Jo Zi.” – Cecilia Miller, Denver

“Jo Zi 😵😵😵 You’ve noticed a marked increase? What are the instances like? What do they have to say for themselves?” – Rosalie Arndt, New York (taught in Denver for years)

“In my classroom, my students talk about their parents being deported. In general across the school, I have noticed that students are more aggressive, more active, more hypersensitive, and less focused.” – Cecilia

“Jo Zi If you don’t mind sharing, this seems like the right place to do so. Every TOC has had some experience with racial discrimination (either in the form of microaggressions and/or explicit behavior).” – Carey

“Cecilia T. Miller – Really? What’s the demographic of your student body?” – Me (Vivett Dukes, teacher, NYC)

“More than 80% children of color…predominantly Hispanic.” – Cecilia

“Cecilia T. Miller – This is serious and this thread is bringing an important topic to the forefront: The effects of this election on our students. I’d be less focused too if I feared my parents being taken away from me.” – Me

“I am a high school teacher and prior to being at this [school] my experience with the student body has been rather non-diverse. Here we have students who come from extremely affluent backgrounds complete with private school educations sitting right next to kids at or below the poverty level and varying degrees of color. For some [I am] their first experience in dealing with a person of color in an authoritative role. Being that I am rather open about talking about things such as white privilege & male dominant patriarchal society I feel that some of my students do not like that I bring up difficult conversations and I have had some pushback. Every day I am able to answer the question “why aren’t there more teachers of color?” and this [particular] situation adds to those reasons.

There is nothing in the ways of support for TOC written as of right now, at least I’m not aware of it.” – Jo Zi

“In Denver, we are now doing interim testing in 2nd grade. The push is harder in 3rd grade because their scores count for 50% of our evaluation. Our district is not TOC-friendly. Since 2010 our TOC rate has dropped…Hispanic teachers have gone from 34%of the work force to 14%. African-American teachers have gone down to 11%. Our school district is filled with students primarily of color.” – Cecilia

“Cecilia T. Miller how do those numbers compare to the attrition rate of white teacher?”
– Carey

“Carey Ma….most of the TOC have been replaced with white, young, and inexperienced/inexpensive teachers. The never ending excuse is that there were no TOC’S to hire or they weren’t qualified. It’s a crock of you know what.” – Cecilia

“I sometimes forget how living in NYC and teaching in Harlem skews my view of the world. Manhattan is an island in more than one way, I suppose. I don’t think I’ve honestly met a loud and proud Trump supporter in person. Cecilia T. Miller , that’s really too bad. Not that NYC’s dept of ed is the pinnacle of academic achievement, but there are programs aimed particularly at men of color to join the profession. There is at least an acknowledgement that more teacher diversity is needed for all students.” – Carey

“Carey Ma lucky you- a SUBSTITUTE teacher came in last week rallying for Trump and kids some kids were appalled- others agreed. [Our] SOCA team wrote letters to the principal requesting that our sub policy be changed to ensure they are aware of using respect for all students.” – Jo Zi

“Cecilia T. Miller I find it short-sighted that we search for TOC outside of our district and state as if plucking and placing a TOC fixes the issues. My program was cut last year and I was one of 2 female TOC at a school that was 99 percent Hispanic- did I mention I’m also a distinguished teacher- high scores on eval?
It’s a mess.” – Jo Zi

“I will tell you this: there are plenty of TOC that are in our state and in our cities that have grown up in the same neighborhood as our students and who could provide an amazing experience in classroom because of it. There are over 200 dialects of Spanish alone and so again I say it doesn’t mean that you can pluck someone from another city or another state and put them into a classroom and have it be a successful endeavor. We need to grow our own and there is difficulty in doing that because our SOC are not treated with equity so they don’t want to enter the field.” -Jo Zi

“Jo Zi, You make such an important point. I think the inadvertent message sent to SOC when TOC are brought in from outside is that there is no agency from within their own community. People of a community are often the solutions.” – Carey

“Rosalie Arndt, you’ve really set off the alarm. And though it doesn’t entirely focus on the article, it evolved nicely into some worthy topics.” – Carey

 

*The writer  refers to remarks made by Donald Trump, Jr. in a 2013 interview. CNN quoted the presidential candidate’s son last week.

What do you think?

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