Words Are Things

Just so we don’t forget, here’s a portion of a Washington Post article (written almost a year ago) that include a sprinkling of bigoted moments from Trump. Of course, this doesn’t even include the past 10 months of added embarrassments. And I do mean just a sprinkling.

“Trump led the “birther” movement challenging President Obama’s standing as a natural-born American; used various vulgar expressions to refer to women; spoke of Mexico sending rapists and other criminals across the border; called for rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants; had high-profile spats with prominent Latino journalists and news outlets; mocked Asian accents; let stand a charge made in his presence that Obama is a Muslim and that Muslims are a “problem” in America; embraced the notion of forcing Muslims to register in a database; falsely claimed thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey; tweeted bogus statistics asserting that most killings of whites are done by blacks; approved of the roughing up of a black demonstrator at one of his events; and publicly mocked the movements of New York Times (and former Washington Post) journalist Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition limiting mobility.” –Dana Milabank, Dec 1, 2015

I start with this because I never want anyone to forget what he said and did during his campaign (and before that). He repeatedly said at some point he would refrain from his impulsive tweets, but I hope they continue to come just so we can continually be reminded of who the Electoral College elected to be our President.

I have been thinking of an interview Oprah did with Maya Angelou in 1993 when she talked about how powerful negative language is (she was speaking of racist words specifically, but also negative language in general), and how she doesn’t stand for it.

“I believe that words are things…I think they stick on the walls, they go into the upholstery, they go into your clothes, and finally, into your very body.” Maya talks about kicking people out of her own home that use disparaging words. It has stuck with me.

In my drama classes, you would think, “Oh fun, they are putting on a play! How cute!” That’s rarely the process. When you take away the tables, chairs, books, papers, pencils & gather a group of 11 yr olds in an empty room to create, collaborate & make decisions–it is as difficult as it when you try to do the same with your coworkers. These youngsters are learning how to communicate with one another, to listen, to value opinions & to make decisions. Because of this, it’s imperative to create a safe space. Sometimes, students will violate the safe space.

For example, a student comes up to play a character onstage while other students are the audience. I see some students whispering to each other & say “how dumb” or “they are so weird,” rolling their eyes, intentionally looking for the student to fail. I am usually nice fun times teacher, but something in me cannot STAND it, & everything stops. I don’t follow any of the stuff I’ve learned about conflict resolution. I don’t try to understand the other side in these moments.

It’s hate, and I don’t stand for it. I say in my SERIOUS KRISTY look with my SERIOUS KRISTY voice,”That does not work in here. We do not do that in here.” (If I had a Maya Angelou voice, I would use that). The kids always look shocked, but I really do refuse that kind of bullying, that kind of negativity, that kind of judgment. It is the lowest of the low.

This is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a presidential candidate, and I will continue to be ashamed every time I see him on T.V. I will continue to be vocal against hate. I will continue not to let it seep inside my home, in my city, in my community, in my country.

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