The consistent focus of my blog has always been on education and the importance of educating all students. Many things affect a student’s decision to stay in school – academics, life circumstances, family beliefs, individual beliefs, how they are treated and many other factors. The lessons learned in school – regardless of the type of school one attends – determine future college and career success. It is from this perspective that I write this.
First I read about how Aisha Harris lightheartedly suggested that Santa Claus should be a penguin because then there would be a more diverse representation of Santa Claus. Others responded to her commentary with several outlandish statements. Perhaps the best recent commentary to describe this is from Kathleen Parker. I have to admit, this caused me to talk with my friends from many races and cultures and ask them what color Santa Claus was when they grew up. I learned that Santa Claus (and yes, even Jesus Christ) transcends color and religion…as it should.
Next, I read about the opinions of another popular TV personality and there it was again. One person’s opinion on race … and sexual orientation.
I wonder if these types of conversations pop up at this time because of the increased stress during the holidays? I suppose a conversation about the color of Santa Claus or Jesus Christ or about a person’s religion or sexual orientation does have more impact in December.
I really thought that we as Americans, we as people, we as loving and caring human beings had moved beyond being critical of others because of their race or religion or sexual orientation. No one gains from this conversation – it just incites furor and anger. And it has a negative impact on students – and their beliefs in education and their futures.
When people are critical of others because of race, religion or sexual orientation, it does nothing to improve our society, America, nor American education. Does the color of my skin, or my religion, or my sexual orientation cause you to look at me differently? Should the color of your skin or your religion or your sexual orientation cause me to look at you differently?
I really hesitated to enter into this sensitive, often emotionally charged conversation about race and religion and sexual orientation. But as I have learned from history, if you say or do nothing, nothing will happen. So, I stand with everyone who believes in equality and diversity and life and hope. I believe in the dignity of each human life and that each individual, with the right support system, can be happy and successful, and contributes to a strong and diverse America.
I hope the conversation will change in the New Year, and that a year from now, we as Americans will be having more important conversations – like how to build relationships with one another, and with students so they stay in school, how to transcend race, religion and sexual orientation to appreciate the value of each person, how to better personalize learning to increase high school graduation rates, how to reduce the number of young people going to prison — and how these conversations and successes have contributed to a strong and diverse America.