As a teacher, I recognize the nuance in many arguments.
There are important discussions on so many issues that take place in the classroom, in our society, and in our political spheres.
What happened this weekend in Charlottesville, VA is not one of those nuanced debates. Hatred and bigotry does not warrant a discussion.
As we all go back to school in the next few weeks, our students have just seen news of white nationalists, neo-nazis, and white supremacists parading through the streets in broad daylight with their messages of hate for so many in our country. Those messages of hate were attacking the hope of so many of the young people that fill our classrooms and neighborhoods.
The temptation for many of us is to believe that this is a fringe act of terrorists or extremists. But denouncing this kind of thing as fringe seems insufficient. For many people of color in this country, the evidence doesn't suggest that this kind of behavior is fringe at all.
As Damon Young of Verysmartbrothas.com wrote this weekend, "And, for those of us (and “us” could be Black people, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, homosexuals and anyone else the nationalists believe are oppressing them and wish to rid America of) who still believe in the fantasy of the fringe alt-right, the comfort exists in convincing ourselves that there just aren’t that many of them. Because if they’re not fringe, if they’re actually everywhere, then ... fuck.
Unfortunately, “then ... fuck” is the reality. The men and women who marched last night, chanting and hashtagging #unitetheright, and the men and women in Charlottesville today, are not fringe. They are not unique. Perhaps they exist in the crevices and butt cracks, but they’re in the coffeeshops and boardrooms too. They are your neighbors. Our neighbors. My neighbors. They’re schoolteachers and Little League baseball coaches; bartenders and accountants; architects and marketing directors; registered nurses and police officers."
He goes on to get more personal. They go to our happy hours, they work at our office, they sleep in our beds.
And Donald Trump makes our job harder, and more important. When President Obama was in office, teachers could lean on the important words of our president. He spoke out against police violence, mourned the death of many young people like Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray, and spoke of the evil of bigotry and racism.
He didn't say there were "many sides." Hatred and terrorism don't deserve a discussion. Forty-five, and all the people that he has elevated around him, don't seem to understand that.
As you go back to the classrooms this week or next, remember that. Silence is too often on the side of evil, especially when the president of this country seems to think think that what happened is Charlottesville is complicated.
It's not complicated. Be teachers. Be bold and don't be part of the "then... fuck."