A new survey published by the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that the rise of Donald Trump as the Republican front-runner has had “alarming” effects that trickle down all the way to the elementary school classroom. An online survey of educators across the South has found that there is “an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color,” that Trump’s discriminatory and divisive ethno-nationalism has been “inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom,” and that many students now actively live in fear of being deported.
Trump is also responsible for a disgraceful rise in ethnoracial bullying by white students against their minority peers. “We’re deeply concerned about the level of fear among minority children who feel threatened by both the incendiary campaign rhetoric and the bullying they’re encountering in school. We’ve seen Donald Trump behave like a 12-year-old, and now we’re seeing 12-year-olds behave like Donald Trump” says SPLC President Richard Cohen.
Over 2,000 teachers and education professionals have reported this kind of behavior across the nation. “My students are terrified of Donald Trump. They think that if he’s elected, all black people will get sent back to Africa” wrote one teacher. One heartbreaking story features a child so terrified of being deported that he asks his teachers every day “Is the wall here yet?”
Educators are extremely worried at the long-term effects of Trumpism. They fear the children becoming “less trusting of government, hostile to opposing points of view, and losing respect for the political process” just like the misinformed adults who turn out in droves for Trump rallies.
What more evidence does one need to see that Trump is a pox upon our nation, an instigating agent provocateur that brings out the worst in the American people and thrusts it into the mainstream, legitimizing and propagating ignorance, hate, and violence? Children look to adults for inspiration and for social cues on behavior and belief – is it any surprise that children are starting to imitate the racist buffoon who the mainstream media insists on covering twenty-three hours a day? Nonwhite children in America have the right to grow and learn without being oppressed by their peers at a young age. It’s absolutely shameful that American parents are allowing their kids to behave this way – and we should all be horrified that American children go to sleep at night, terrified of deportation. They came to this country to be safe from the knocks of security forces in the night.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.