“We Don’t Deserve This”: Finding Hope in the Voices of Children

To say that I’ve been in mourning this past week is an understatement. As a social justice educator, you’d think that I wouldn’t be surprised by the results of our election, but the outcome stabbed me in the heart.

The grieving process will take some time to move through, but I’m leaning on my mission as an educator and finding hope in the long game of dismantling systems of oppression. While this election left me with crushing disappointment, the voices of my students in the classroom have been buoying my spirit.

In my Social Justice Leadership class, we spent the start of our year recreating the American Dream to increase access for all of us. In the midst of grading my students’ papers on what the American Dream meant for them, I read a paragraph from one of my students that gave me some hope. I’m clinging to it as a salve for my bruised soul and a reminder that our work will help to wake up and empower the next generation. All is not lost.

With my student’s and her mother’s permission, I’m sharing her words here in the hopes that they will comfort you too. There is already a young generation of fighters willing to move the cause of equality forward. Our work is not over and we are not alone.

“Equality is important to me not just because of my own experiences with being discriminated against, but the experiences of others as well. It’s not right that people are discriminated against, or hurt, or killed, just because they are different from someone else. We’ve come so far in the fight for equality, but we still have so much farther to go. As a kid I thought that once slavery was abolished everyone was suddenly equal, no matter their skin color. But, black lives are still being ended for no reason. And even though gay marriage was legalized, LGBT+ people are still told they are going to burn in hell. They do not deserve this. We do not deserve this. I want to be part of this fight. I want to succeed in overcoming inequality. I know perfect equality for all isn’t going to happen in my lifetime, but I know that if we all keep fighting, we’ll get closer to that goal.”