The first days after the election have over-delivered on what I feared most: an open platform for bigotry, hate and violence.White students in schools chanting "Build the wall,'" "White power," and "Heil Hitler."White students formed a 'wall' to block Latino students from entering school.Rainbow flags burned.Confederate flags raised.Muslim girls and women attacked on the subway, on the street, in stores and in school.
Right around the time the Syrian refugee crisis was at the height of its media coverage in the U.S., I noticed a familiar kind of backlash on my newsfeed. Amidst the photos showing desperate throngs of people escaping with only their lives, between the articles imploring me to donate or explaining how I could help Syrian refugees, I saw another kind of plea. "Don't Let Them In."
I wasn't surprised by the politicians who were quick to go on record, justifying all the reasons the U.S. could not or should not extend offers of asylum, however I was a bit taken aback by the similarly swift response by several of my friends on social media. Suddenly memes were appearing on my feed, with messages such as "No Syrian Refugees Until ALL of Our Veterans are Off the Street. Hit 'LIKE/SHARE' if You Agree!" In no time at all, I was reminded by multiple people of the pressing issues that "should" take precedence over the refugee crisis. Homelessness, unemployment, the war on terror-- all of these were suggested as reasons why a person was simply unable to care about the thousands of uprooted families fleeing violence. This really made me wonder, is there a "Compassion Cap"? Does showing concern for one issue leave a person unable to care about another matter? Is our “Universe of Obligation” a series of tightly drawn circles or an expansive space that includes all of humanity?
Who am I?
Does it really matter?
That goes from…
And we can go on and on and on.”
This project was the brainchild of 7 educators across five content areas. What better way to end the school year than with a Civil Rights Spoken Word Showcase?
Malia Warner has taught at Beverly Hills High School for 11 years, and is a member of the Los Angeles Teacher Leadership Team for Facing History and Ourselves. In 2015, she participated in our "powering up" project with her United States History class. She describes her experience.
The philosopher Hannah Arendt said that the essence of being human is participating in moral discourse with others.
As we prepare for our summer seminars at Facing History, we start seeing connections to our work everywhere, even Star Wars. It turns out we aren't the only one! We are pleased to share the following excerpt from the soon-to-be-released, The World According to Star Wars, from the chapter, Rebels, by Cass R. Sunstein.
Star Wars isn’t a political tract, but it has a political message. After all, it opposes an Empire to a Republic, and a First Order to a Resistance, and its heroes are rebels, who want to return peace and justice to the galaxy.
That’s one reason for the universal appeal of the saga. Whatever your political convictions, and wherever you live, you’re likely to see an Emperor of some kind, and you’re likely to have some sympathy for the rebels or the Resistance. Your teacher or your boss might seem like an Emperor. Maybe your nation’s leader reminds you of Palpatine; maybe the opposing party is the Resistance….
In order to be strong and powerful, you have to know who you are first."
Sana Amanat, Director of Content & Character Development at Marvel Entertainment, shared the thought above with students and educators at the 2016 celebration of Upstanders from Facing History Los Angeles Partnership Schools. On stage, Amanat shared how inspired she was by the students, who she credited with being further along than she was at their age by already making a difference. The students were inspired by Sana to find their own voice and continue contributing to a more diverse and compassionate world.
Facing History is proud to partner with YALLWEST Book Festival, the only book festival on the west coast dedicated to young adult literature. YALLWEST has generously provided funding for buses to bring students from a handful of Facing History schools to participate in the festival this coming weekend in Santa Monica. They've also donated hundreds of novels and graphic novels for Facing History students.