It started out with me asking if my students were following what was happening in Paris with the Climate Change Conference. Instead when I said the word Paris, they immediately started talking about the attacks that happened. I tried to steer the conversation back to the conference but then one of my little boys pipes up with,
“I heard that people in Paris are being really mean to Muslims just because of the attacks. The people in IS aren’t even real Muslims.”
and then the worst
So we had a little discussion about how wrong it is to believe that whole group of people is a certain way based on the actions of a few.
“Why do people do that, Madame?” he asks.
“Honestly, I don’t know.” I respond.
But he is not deterred. I have never before taught a child who is more persistent and less able to accept “I don’t know” as an answer, from me, from himself or from anyone else. But it’s the only answer I really have right now. I don’t know what drives people to do terrible things to each other, other than from fear and ignorance and listening to other people who tell them that other people are bad and deserve to have terrible things done to them. But I’m not prepared for this. I’m not prepared to have my students, MY students, be afraid just because of their religion and I can’t tell him that there’s nothing to be afraid of because racism happens. It happens here. I wish it didn’t but it does.
My hope is that these children that I teach will grow up with a different perspective. They will grow up in a multi-cultural, multi-religion group of peers. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Atheists, Hindus, these won’t be random scary different people to be feared and hated, they will be friends and neighbours who they know and trust. I hope that this will help them to be the caring adults of the future who will help change things. But in the meantime, I worry.
I wanted to write about the Hour of Code that we got to participate in today, but that will have to wait for another day.