Saturday, October 14, 2017
When Donald Trump's face is contorted by hate and rage- which is often- that is the official face of the United States of America to the world. It is also, whether people want to admit it or not, the face of everyone who elected him and still supports him. No President in our recent history, no matter what they did with their power, has ever allowed themselves to look like that in public- not Jimmy Carter, not Ronald Reagan, not Bill Clinton, not either George Bush, not Barack Obama. In our last Presidential election, voters selected someone whose facial expressions resemble Hitler and Mussolini, or a Southern demagogue from the Jim Crow era, more than any American President. And that face will be forever be preserved in our history books as symbols of a time when America lost its bearings and embraced some of the worst impulses in its history.
Friday, October 13, 2017
It's been a brutal week, a time when many people have lost faith in the decency of the nation they live in, or at least those leading it. It has led to disillusionment, despair and rage among many who have spent their lives working for justice.
In this difficult and challenging time, I want to raise a glass- of Jack Daniels to be specific- to everyone who has spent this week crossing barriers, building bridges, disregarding gates and creating ties of community with people who differ from them in race, religion, nationality or economic status. In particular, I want to toast my students at Fordham, who were incredible hosts to two student groups from the Bronx, one from PS 140, one from CASA Middle School, as well as the teachers and principals who arranged for their visit. You showed Fordham, the Bronx and the nation what real unity is about and set an example that all of us need to follow.
To A Better Future!!!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
What Many Trump Supporters Are Thinking And Not Always Saying
"Get real liberals! As long as you keep attacking Columbus Day and tearing down Confederate statues; desecrating the flag and the anthem; attacking our police and ruining The NFL, and denouncing everyone who disagrees with you as “racists,” we are going to keep electing assholes tough enough to keep you in your place- which is down, out and on the defensive. This is war and Trump is our warrior. If he wasn’t cruel ruthless and crazy, we wouldn’t have elected him. And yes, liberals, we are making war on you!"
This is so realistic that some of you are worried that I am a secret Trump supporter, right? Don’t worry, this is me summarizing the arguments in the hate mail I get as well as what I overhear in random conversations
When Trump goes there will be others to take his place. Trump MARKETED white rage, he didn’t invent it.
This war for the soul of our country -and yes, it is war- won’t be ending any time soon
Monday, October 9, 2017
The President is someone born to a wealthy family, privileged even by white standards, the recipient of the kind of “ affirmative action for the rich” at top colleges that dwarfs admissions advantages given to Blacks or Latinos. It is utterly astonishing to watch him try to intimidate Black players in the NFL who not only have both the lived experience and historic memory of multiple forms of discrimination, but who for the most part grew up in far harsher circumstances than the President did. That he is doing this for temporary political gain makes it all the more reprehensible. His actions will be seared into the memory of this generation of African Americans and of all people who care about Racial Justice. Mr Trump will not be treated kindly by historians of the future; his racially provocative actions assure that result. We are living through a shameful period in US History.
Friday, October 6, 2017
The way I see it, Donald Trump is boxing a lot of good people into a corner where they find themselves defending things in their heart of hearts they know is wrong. It is very sad to see this. Because it not only divides friends and family members, it leads the nation down a moral precipice where unacceptable behavior becomes normalized.
I have tried to convince people that they had to stop this juggernaut of racialized nationalism before it swallowed them up and took them to places they really didn't want to go, but few listened
I just don't have time for those conversations any more. I am just going to say what I have to say and do what I have to do and let others figure things out for themselves.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
This analysis is more anecdotal than scientific, but as an educator and mother of teens, I am concerned about the deteriorating boy culture I see in the New York/New Jersey suburbs. The Don Draper “Mad Men” vision of manhood my teen students, daughters and neighbors have shared with me is no longer a passing phase, but has taken root and is flourishing in our current climate. It is no longer entertaining.
In the two-year election campaign cycle, and in the wake of the election, many middle and high school aged girls who dared sport Hillary pins or SWAG, or voice divergent opinions in class or online, were publicly ridiculed by loud individuals or mobs of pro-Trump boys.
This taunting and teasing has been relentless and exhausting: it sucks the life, enthusiasm and creativity from hearers. I know a self-possessed young woman who gave up a beloved extra-curricular activity in her last year of high school because of the harassing taunts of a few boys about her support of Hillary and feminist issues. Even at her progressive private high school, the Sanders and Trump supporters bullied Hillary supporters loudly, and used misogynist, foul language, e.g. “choke on a (male body part).” It is pervasive: in the classroom, lunchroom, gym, hallways, buses, social media, forced small workgroups, football games, and Main Street, boys can be seen chanting with an in-your-face loudness that diminishes anyone who disagrees and threatens their voices at a critical developmental age. These young boys march in the town parades in their “Make America Great Again” hats and sweatshirts, and are seen stealing dozens of opposing lawn signs from neighbors after school. They are emboldened daily by their role model world leader. He bullies immigrants, people of color, and women; they follow like toddlers in parallel play.
On November 9, boys chanted at Hispanic students in their school during lunch, "Trump won. You are getting deported, you are going back to Mexico." These matters are taken seriously in many well-run high schools filled with mostly well-meaning people. Yet, how do we learn to be respectful humans, citizens, friends, and partners?
This boy culture appears to be fostering a greater divide between the sexes ... a phenomenon of less dating, romance, intimacy, and love in a country where campus rape is normalized, as is racism and sexism, and other biases. I know of a brown-skinned boy who reads Breitbart, shaved his black hair, and tries to blend in with the white skinned boys at school. Otherwise he'd likely be scapegoated, or alone, which is death to a high schooler. A girl of Palestinian descent was called a terrorist as she rode the bus to school. To counter this daily onslaught of toxicity, a group of girls asked a teacher to start a club to support each other. They're looking to create a safe space for themselves and their voices.
“How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be all right?
When you know that it might not be true? What do you do?
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say, "Listen to me"
Children will listen
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you” Into the Woods soundtrack
Carolyn Johnson Ed.D. is a graduate of Fordham University and the Founder of Not So Common Application https://notsocommonapplication.org/
Thursday, September 28, 2017
I don't want to be too much of an amateur psychologist, but it looks to me like what floats Donald Trump's boat the most is attacking people. He is fairly ecumenical in his choice of targets. He goes after Republicans almost as much as Democrats. He goes after the press. He goes after Hollywood and people in the arts. But what gets his "base," most excited is when he goes after people who in liberal circles were defined as off limits- Blacks, Latinos, Muslims and immigrants. His overwhelmingly white supporters LOVE IT when he throws "political correctness" to the winds and risks accusation of racism to go after Black Lives Matter protesters, Mexican immigrants, Muslim refugees using language the most people could not risk airing on their jobs
Donald Trump knows this. It is one of the main reasons he was elected President. So it is no accident in the midst of a humiliating health care defeat, and rumors of the Russian influence investigating heating up he calls Black NFL players who took a knee to protest police violence "sons of bitches" and demands that NFL owners fire them. Trump doesn't only do this because he enjoys attacking people-- which he does-- he does it to get his base all excited that they finally have someone for who speaks for THEM as President, saying things they can only say among trusted friends.
Having a President who airs the subaltern racial resentments of America's white people so openly and crudely is new for the United States- Presidents, at least since the Civil Rights movement, normally appealed to white racial resentments in veiled language.
But so effective has Mr Trump been in using this for political gain that I expect he will have many imitators
And those of us who are the targets of this resentment are going to have a very bumpy ride for quite some time.