By Ryan Velez
The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has caused many institutions, groups, and individuals to evaluate what they want both out of their public officials and their country. Calling the rhetoric, which is often filled with hate towards groups including Hispanics and Muslims, controversial is a massive understatement. However, a recent Vox article takes a look at the effects of Trump’s words and platform from a new lens: that of children.
In her popular speech on Trump’s comments bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, First Lady Michelle Obama said “We’re telling all our kids that bigotry and bullying are perfectly acceptable in the leader of their country,” should Trump win the election. However, for some children, this has already taken place. In the spring, the education arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance, took an informal poll of educators.
Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance, mentioned that the impetus for this poll came from news reports about high school sporting events where chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “Build a wall” were used against predominantly Latino teams. “We wondered, is this the tip of an iceberg? Is there something beneath this?” she asked.
Evidence from the poll, taken from subscribers to the Teaching Tolerance newsletter, showed that two-thirds of teachers reported that students — mainly immigrants, children of immigrants, and Muslims — had expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election. The teachers used words like “hurt” and “dejected” to describe how the students’ reactions. While immigrant children seem to be those most exposed to short-term harm, this extends to other groups. Even African-American children feel like they may be “sent back” under a Trump presidency.
It’s important to note that this isn’t limited to those marginalized groups. “Teachers have said it’s not just the marginalized kids who are being hurt,” explained Costello. “Their white or Christian friends and allies feel for them and want to stand up for them.” At the moment, she adds that this is an unprecedented situation, so the potential for long-term effects to students certainly exists but how it will play out is unknown.