What educators should expect from legislators: calling out racism

Say no to racism

I rarely write a political blog post on my professional blog.  But today a response from my Senator’s staff felt like a bridge too far.

Yesterday, I once again heard the President calling coronavirus the “Kung Flu” at a rally in Arizona.  Hearing it, I thought of all our Asian and East Asian students and how this would feel to them.  I thought of a Filipino family member telling us recently how as a boy he was called “Chink”as a child and various other derogatory terms, and how it felt.

So rather than just tweet about it, and on the heels of Black Lives Matter protests, I called my two Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.  I told them I was an educator. I asked them if they had issued statements regarding the President’s comments. (They hadn’t). I told them that comments like these are hurtful to our students, who already suffer racist teasing, and that this encourages even more bullying.  That educators work hard to teach students NOT to bully but it’s hard to counter what a President says.  That as my senators, I expect them to set a good example for our students and be role models.  That I don’t think those in Congress realize the impact the daily drip of racist throw-away remarks has had on students, and how their confidence in government is eroded when Congresspersons don’t stand up to power if the person in power is behaving in a disrespectful manner.  This is not about partisanship.  This is about living up to our ideals as Americans, and I am calling out my two Senators for not living up to the ideals they should aspire to and help our children to aspire to.

Ted Cruz’s office staffer told me that the President was just referring to the fact that the virus came from China.  I protested several times that as an educator, I am concerned about bullying against our Asian students and how this condones that.  He just kept repeating his response.  That shows me my senator doesn’t care about young people in America, or about living up to the American ideals.  As the child of immigrants, he doesn’t care.  John Cornyn’s staff was polite but in a rote way just noted my response, nor has Cornyn issued statements countering remarks like this, which in essence, condones them.  He routinely brushes off the President’s behavior rather than representing norms of respectable behavior to our students.

As educators, we need to be aware and vocal about racist behavior when we see it.  Parents like Angie Hong and her son as she relates in this story(Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Asian-American students like my son face racist taunting. Let’s change that), deserve and rely on us to be aware of the impacts of bullying language and how it trickles down to schools.

So I am calling out my Senators to consider the impact of the President’s language on students in this country, and to speak up against racist slurs as unbecoming of this country’s leaders.  And I’m calling out fellow educators to hold your elected officials accountable. I hope you will join me in contacting your senators, too.  The fight against racism needs all our voices.

And lastly to Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn – I’m still waiting on those statements.

Image from Pixabay: anintelligentmoron

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