Jimmy Fallon starts, even though the Tonight Show is not political...It is his responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being. Jimmy Fallon felt compelled to address the events of Charlottesville, South Carolina that occurred this weekend.
Our classrooms are not places to present political bias either, but I believe we must address intolerance, bigotry, and violence in our society. As social studies teachers we study the events of history and the impact of actions by individuals and groups that have forever changed the shape of our world. As we study history we understand the causes of social and political conflict. We guide our students to understand that regardless of era, human behavior and the motivation for actions remain at their core, very similar no matter when they occur. We celebrate advances in the fight for equality like the Emancipation Proclamation as a watershed moment in American History. However a hundred years later we are witness to another significant moment in the quest for equality, the Civil Rights Movement. While we celebrate this event as moving us forward, it spotlights the fact that we still don't have equality. We are still fighting intolerance. In 2017 we witnessed the beginning of the movement of Black Lives Matter in response to social injustice. And this past weekend, we have Nazis, and White Supremacist groups protesting that they need to take their country back because they are now feeling like they don't have power. As educators we understand that the advancements of the past still have not led us to a society of equality for all.
We are responsible as educators to be positive role models and must take a stand against actions such as we have witnessed this weekend. As someone who taught political science and government, we debated the idea of freedoms and rights. Students debated the idea of having freedoms and whether freedoms could or should be limited. With the events of this weekend, I believe the actions began as an exercise of Freedom of Speech. The group that gathered with the Nazi and Confederate flags have the freedom to assembly, protest and the right to say what they want. While I dislike what they stand for and say, if I limit their speech, it is only a matter of time before I will see my freedom of speech limited. Now there are limits that I agree with that have been created by the supreme court through the legislative and judicial process. Someone cannot incite violence against others, or yell things like Fire or Bomb in a crowded room whereas these forms of speech could result in injury to others or to property. The events of this weekend go beyond the issue of freedom of speech as they boiled over to violence between two groups that gathered. Then it evolved into an act of domestic terrorism as a car was used as a weapon mowing down a crowd of protestors killing a young woman.
I spent the past few days reflecting on how to respond to these events. How we could address these in a chat. How do we possibly turn these events into a teaching opportunity. I am nervous about this week's chat as I am not sure I will do justice to the event or more importantly delve deep enough into the conversation to begin to transform out teaching practices to make social change. Real, lasting social change that can help us create a society that sees diversity as a strength.