Standing up Against Hate is not Partisan: Overcoming Hate in our Backyards

Rethinking Schools published “Overcoming Hate in our Backyards” by Mica Pollock, director of CREATE and professor in the Department of Education Studies at UC San Diego. An independent publisher of books and magazines, Rethinking Schools advocates for the reform of public schools, with an emphasis on urban schools and issues of equity and social justice.

“Counteracting hate like this will take unwavering support for educators and for learning,” said Pollock. “It will mean standing up for educators when they are criticized for counteracting hate with learning. It will take dialogues and relationship-building. It will require reminding people that standing up against hate is not ‘partisan’ at all.”

Read an excerpt from “Overcoming Hate in our Backyards” by Mica Pollock

Hate speech and harassment have spiked nationwide since the 2016 election. They’ve spiked in our own backyards, too — requiring each community to counteract hate proactively.

We can counter hate at our dinner tables; we can do it via our religious organizations. I suggest we counter hate particularly where we most come together daily: in our schools.

I started writing about a spike in hateful talk and harassment on campuses both before and right after the election. The question then was whether that spike would fade. No such luck: a recent, nationally representative UCLA survey found that 27 percent of 1535 teachers surveyed in May 2017 “reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions. This included sexist as well as racist and anti-Muslim comments.” Recent hate and harassment examples from schools nationwide included school swastikas and n-words scrawled on bathroom walls, taunts to peers about deportation, and other visible messages like “Kill the [N-word]” and “F–k Jews.” Teachers in eight states used the word “emboldened” to describe students’ increasingly hateful remarks in class — including never-before-encountered explicit statements of white supremacy. Teachers nationwide told researchers they wanted help handling the hate surge – and 91.6 percent of teachers surveyed agreed that “national, state, and local leaders should encourage and model civil exchange and greater understanding across lines of difference.”

Children and youth don’t live in a vacuum: they hear and repeat the words adults say. (Just last month, Pennsylvania educators I met recounted n-word taunts by both teens and parents at a fall sports game; fliers just sent during a November New Jersey school board race called for two Asian American candidates to be “deported.”) And after many months of public speech denigrating people of all kinds, our spike in hate is truly national — including in my state and town. (Read the post)

Join Mica Pollock and many others on the #schooltalking Facebook group for more resource-sharing and dialogue.