It felt the familiar buzz of my phone in the pocket of my jeans as I walked with a friend back to my dormitory. A Snapchat? A GroupMe message? Maybe even a Facebook message? I fumbled for the slab of connectivity and glanced at the screen. Nothing. An email, I thought to myself, as I opened the phone with my thumbprint.
Recently, I joined more than 1,000 people in Park Slope, Brooklyn at a community meeting convened to resist Trump’s agenda. One of the speakers was Hebh Jamal, a 17-year-old Muslim student who led a citywide student walkout to protest the travel ban and Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
She’s also a leader in the movement to desegregate New York City schools, among the most segregated in the country.
She looked out at the nearly all-white, upper-income crowd — which included many parents — and asked us to recognize ourselves and our children as beneficiaries of a rigged educational system. While this is a known and somewhat lamented fact in our liberal community, the silent room got a little more silent as we contemplated ourselves as both new resisters and longtime collaborators.
Race, humanity, and what I learned in high school.
About three years ago I saw an old friend in Boston. We had dated for about a year in graduate school, when we were in our mid-twenties, and on my visit she showed me photos of ourselves from two decades earlier.
“My God,” she said. “We were so young.” Her voice was full of awe, verging on incredulity. As if, over time, she had dismissed the possibility that we — she — could ever have been as young as the couple in the photos.
My response was a little different, more Shock than Awe. The younger me looked handsome. Attractive. Not just in a young-people-are-adorable kinda way, either. I’m talking total hottie.
Who knew? Not me when I actually was that guy, tell you what. A weird discovery to make so long after the fact. And here’s the other thing I realized in the moment: While I don’t see photos of my young-adult self often, I’m similarly surprised every time I do.
What’s up with that?
Administrators at Fox Chapel Middle School in Spring Hill, Florida recently fired a teacher who gave her sixth graders an assignment asking them to consider how “comfortable” they would be in the company of various people. Some of the 41 scenarios identified these “others” in terms of race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion.
Your new roommate is a Palestinian and Muslim.
A group of young Black men are walking toward you on the street.
The young man sitting next to you on the airplane is an Arab.
Your new suitemates are Mexican.
Your assigned lab partner is a fundamentalist Christian.
Many Fox Hill students and parents were upset. “They’re kids. Let kids be kids. Why are they asking kids these questions?” one mother to a seventh-grade student wondered. “I just don’t think it’s something that needs to be brought in school.”