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Safe Spaces


We're still getting tons of reader reactions to both Donald Trump's election and our November 16 issue in response to it. First up, Cheyenne Solorio and Matthew Hickson, Durham schoolteachers and cofounders of Bull City Schools United.

"Between now and January 20," they write, "millions of teachers and students around our country will continue the essential daily work of growing a future generation. In the backdrop of their exchange, our country faces an incredibly challenging political climate. Our president-elect has incited violently racist, misogynist, and anti-LGBTQ sentiments. His electoral coalition fused together disaffected, and mostly white, voters into a miasma of racism and heterosexism. All while our young people are the brownest, queerest, most progressive generation in United States history. The future of this nation belongs to them. At the foundation of education is the belief in empowering our young people with the skills to someday lead our country. There is perhaps no time in recent memory where this work has been more challenging and important.

"Although our country has yet to see the legal ramifications of the president-elect's presidency on our vulnerable youth, the sentiments, platform, and supporters of the president-elect's campaign have already wreaked havoc on the social and emotional well-being of our students. This lack of safety directly impacts their ability to learn and achieve in the classroom. Calls to suicide prevention hotlines that are geared toward LGBTQ people have spiked in the wake of the results of the election. Students who are undocumented immigrants, or have undocumented family members, are experiencing anxiety as they face potential deportation, or separation from their family. As educators, we have found ourselves having to reaffirm our students in order for them to believe that their lives matter, that their right to a safe space in school will be defended, and that their schools and communities love, support, and believe in them no matter their background or identities. Our nation's LGBTQ youth and youth of color are turning toward their schools to find support. If we truly believe that every student deserves a safe space to learn and grow, we have to support and push our schools and districts to create these safe spaces and schools for our country's future leaders."

Meanwhile, Jesus Gutierrez writes to thank us for Ken Fine's article, "A Story for My Little Girl": "My eleven-year-old daughter also cried the next morning. I am saving your article and framing it for her. The way you described your daughter is exactly the way my daughter is. Huge heart, loves helping people. Loves standing in the crowds chanting on Moral Mondays. She is a fighter, and I will keep reminding her that. I want her to grow up and light a fire so bright that it will burn the shit out of the bigots and the racists but especially the sexual predators like the president-elect. I want her to be so strong that they will be intimidated by her girl power." 

Erin G of Durham, however, says we just don't get it: "I read your recent INDY all the way through. I was a little taken aback. I am a female who is disabled and I voted for Trump. I feel that you (able-bodied, employed, well-to-doers) still do not understand. You are still not listening to us. Anger did not drive us to vote. It was desperation. Would we have voted for Bernie? Yes. But you know how that went.

"I want you to understand the underclass is way larger and more desperate, here in a land that boasts of a love of equality, than you realize. The spike in the suicide rate should have tipped you off, but our troubles are always considered fixable with more social programs. We do not want more social programs. We do not want Medicaid. Medicaid keeps you down, does nothing to lift you up. All the programs for the poor now fix you in place. We wanted a way out, and that is why we voted for Trump. Even if he cannot do it, he heard us." 

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