Don't be afraid.
“Lead by example of hope, and never fear.”
Fear: fear, an anthropomorphic, personified monster, has been the tool of many politicians for decades since we were told “The only thing to fear is fear itself” by Roosevelt. We were brave. We were strong. We may not have agreed, but we began the hard work on building again. But now that’s all torn and shredded apart. We have a president-elect whose social media use is as immature and disgusting as any #gamergate troll. And now, once again, it’s up to teachers to support parents whose job it is to raise moral, know-right-from-wrong humans. Just like we can’t assign credit, we can’t assign blame, either. Something, however, is going on and has been for some time. Students have been taking videos of fights and uploading them to Youtube, and other social media outlets, for years.
These aren’t ordinary schoolyard turf wars. These are marked by an exploitive purpose and showmanship.
Recently I’ve been posting how-to videos on a Youtube channel, and my students gently tease me about how many subscribers I have, and are very interested in making me ‘famous.’ (I’ve gone from 4 to 23 in a week—woot!) It’s all about the points, the numbers, the amount, the likes–that’s all that seems to matter to them. And why wouldn’t it? That’s what they’ve been raised on; video games and school for points points points points. More points = Success.
The beating was captured on cellphone video by one of the assailants and has since been viewed millions of times on social media. The footage shows the suspects taunting the victim with profanities against white people and President-elect Donald Trump.
Prosecutors offered new details of the assault, explaining that one of the suspects demanded $300 from the mother of the victim, who is schizophrenic and has attention-deficit disorder. They also said the beating started in a van when the same attacker became angry that the mother had contacted him asking that her son be allowed to come home.
So when a terrible story comes to light, and everyone is blamed, everything is blamed, I’m asking for one light to shine — please — please stop making everything about points.
If we need to help our students find their voices on social media, can we please show them a hundred positive examples, and show them that when they film fights they are exploiting themselves? Teach them about how they can control their reputation, their narrative, and their emotions. No one at the top of our government is going to do it for them, in fact, they will be working hard to do the opposite. They will promote and normalize racism, sexism, and hate. It’s not amorphous or abstract. The men in charge have clearly stated their positions on their white privilege. We need to put a name on fear– when Michelle Obama asks us not to be afraid — we need to help our students name their fears, identify the monsters, and make a plan. And this plan never includes beating each other up.
More of this, please: