Skip to main content
Clarissa T's picture

Working in two school districts with various teaching assignments, I’ve witnessed a variety of issues and concerns serving students from many backgrounds and walks of life. One particular issue that developed since last fall, is the younger children's emotional grasp of the political landscape that evolved since early 2015.

Immigrant children not only fear for their parents, but their own futures, due to Trump's and the media's toxic rhetoric. After becoming acquainted with the children, they began to express their concerns.

“I love my mom and dad. They are so good to me. They are everything! Will they send them too?”

“Will they take me away? Where to?”

“Where will we (child and siblings) go if they take our parents away?”

“I’m not a bad person and neither are my parents!”

“My parents work hard, what have they done wrong?”

All of this with anxiety and near tear-inducing as they made these statements to me. Children as young as six and seven years old. After experiencing this on several occasions, I could not help but feel immensely crushed. This is what Donald Trump’s toxic and traumatic rhetoric had done to these children! How is he a father and a grandfather, while committing this form of emotional turmoil on millions of children?

It seemed to fester in their minds and hearts, bursting at the seams, and with my arrival as a Latina, they took the opportunity to unleash all of their sentiments, fears, and anxieties that Donald J. Trump had given them with his threats, and slander.

A common subsequent reaction was for them to joke about this elusive man that insulted their existence, and even participate in some humor about the whole situation, but when the laughs were over, you could see their little minds resign with furrowed eyebrows, confused, bewildered, resentful, but most of all, extremely worried.  

These social and emotional impacts last a lifetime. Children that learn how to negotiate with a “leader/role model” who is unwilling to discontinue dehumanizing rhetoric and actions learn to be reactionary, instead of using critical thinking skills. In addition, children who reflect on negative perceptions of their ethnicities and race, and constantly have to defend against them, deter students from socializing with other races/ethnicities that cement a more inclusive and richer community. The emotional strain of not knowing where they stand with other communities because of Trump’s blanket characterization of whole groups of people teach children to be cautious, instead of flourishing with their culture and the enrichment it provides in all of their pursuits.

As a US citizen and parent of a young boy, I couldn't imagine what I could tell my little one, aware that in a couple of months' time, he may not see me ever again. And who would I leave him with? Most of my friends have relocated and my entire family lives in another country! And how would  I explain to him what had happened to us?

I did not feel equipped to handle the students' grievances. I was saddened just with seeing their little faces filled with worry and fear. I could not claim to know their anxieties nor their sadness.

Do I reassure them that it won't happen, but later disappoint them if it does? How to explain to these little minds the various independent actors that go into the result of winning the US presidency?

I began to just listen and attempt soothing affirmations and respond with encouraging tidbits,

“Well, there are a lot of other adults that are trying to make sure that does not happen and appreciate you being here.”

“Your mom and dad will do whatever to stay with you. Don’t you worry.”

And making sure to praise their academic efforts and heritage throughout the day.

There was one day I had a fifth grader who thirsted for more. He was following the primaries, state by state, and he was hungry to know all the factors going into the election. I explained the delegate system and the electoral college and he grew excited! He saw there was much more to it then just voters appearing at their local polling locations.

I explained the party system and the alternative party models around the world that provided their populations with more choices. The rise of the Green Party, and the US’ past history with other parties. He was fascinated, but even more importantly, he felt like he had a little bit more of an understanding of the trajectory of what might happen to his parents, his family members, and himself. He had a glimmer of hope, just arming him with information and strategy, and amongst the words I had given all of these children throughout the year, this was the most slightly settling encounter, that perhaps, I had given at least one of them something more than possibly empty words. Kids like him are our future, and what are we they learning about our system? What example are we giving them about winning the hearts and minds of a nation?

I shudder to think about how great the weight of our failures, as adults, will impact these little minds and hearts. These possible chain of events that will mark them for the rest of their lives. I hope that all the reassurances I gave these students, will come true.

We WILL keep families together. There are millions that have the possibility to turn this around and show these kids that we are not turning our backs and we listen to all their fears and anxieties!

They need love and protection, not hate and rejection! THIS TAKES ACTION!

You can do something! Please register to vote

Make a commitment! and

And stay involved in the conversation on social media and in your communities:

#latinasvotan #notonourwatch #wewontwait #GOTV

#keepfamiliestogether #Not1More #theyarchildren #immigrationreform


The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of strongly encourages our readers to post comments in response to blog posts. We value diversity of opinions and perspectives. Our goals for this space are to be educational, thought-provoking, and respectful. So we actively moderate comments and we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that undermine these goals. Thanks!