Is my dad getting deported?

One of the most interesting and heartbreaking parts of our current political climate is the effect it has on children, and therefore, classrooms. Children of color are being bullied using the words and phrases they have heard on the news or during their parents – or even classmates – political conversations.

Come on, #unitecloud, ” people in this area have said to us, “kids are kids. They’re going to find something to bully each other about.” Sure – BUT – as one St. Cloud area mom put it:

“Bullying comes naturally to kids. Here’s the problem with kids using words they heard their parents or a  politician say: it came from a trusted source, so it must be true, and it gives them a license to bully.”

So, just how is this license to bully playing out in our local schools?

13177283_10156884792525383_7435838728430211572_nLocal mother, Marit Ortega, told #unitecloud in her own words what has happened in a local elementary school in the St. Cloud:

As the mother of three beautiful, half-Latino children who are legal US citizens, one of the most heartbreaking “How was your day at school?” talks came a few weeks ago when my 4th grade daughter told me kids were chanting “Build the wall! Build the wall!….” in the classroom, while the teacher was in the hallway so no one was there to correct it. She understood enough to know the wall was meant to keep foreigners out, but didn’t know if that meant her papa would be sent back to Venezuela or not. He is a legal resident, but the details of who the wall was keeping in or out were lost on the 4th graders. She sat through the chanting and through hours of school worrying about her family.

Another local woman, Brianna, told us what her 16 year old co-worker faces when she walks in the doors of her local high school:

img_9674Every day kids tell my friend from work that they can’t wait for her to be deported. She’s Mexican American AND was born here.

Of course, this is not a St. Cloud-only problem. Case and point, this story from a local #unitecloud supporter, Sandy:

I volunteered once a week in my daughter Elizabeth’s classroom. It was my favorite day of the week Her classroom is in downtown Minneapolis and filled with beautiful children from a range of cultures who watch out for each other. The kids would often ask me if I have “my papers” so I can stay in the country. They had heard so many harsh words and talk of deporting and building a wall. These kids are 9 and 10 years old, and, no matter their race, they were scared for either themselves, family members, or their little friends.

To all of our #unitecloud friends and neighbors that feel pressure and scrutinization due to our current political climate, we are with you. We are glad you are here, we support you, we are here for you, and we stand with you.

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Do you have a story of how our current political climate is playing out in your family, school, friend group, job, neighborhood, or place of worship? We would love to share it on #unitecloud! You can share your own story or we can interview and write it for you, like we did with this article. E-mail us at info@unitecloud.org or send us a message on Facebook!

#unitecloud is a 501c3 non-profit organization and, therefore, can not and does not support any political candidates.

About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as a legal assistant at Tripiciano Immigration Law, a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University), and as Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN. She is a member of the Community Impact Team at United Way of Central MN and is a member of the St Cloud District 742 school board. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.