How a Teacher and DACA Recipient Gathers his Classroom After Elections

Fearing that next year he might not even be a teacher anymore, Cesar Juarez holds space for his high school students to reflect together following the Presidential Election results.

In every Ethnic studies class I teach at a local high school, we gathered in a community circle to provide a safe space for my students to share their feelings and reactions to Donald Trump being elected as the next president of the United States. Many shared their fear for the future. They shared concern for their parents or other members of their community because they are immigrants, womyn, LGBTQ or Muslim. My few white students shared their disbelief that a xenophobic person could win. It was difficult to share that perhaps some time early next year I might not be their teacher because part of Trump’s First 100 Days includes the removal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an administrative relief from deportation for eligible immigrant youth. I did not want to traumatize my students more than they were, but like I tell my students, let’s be real. Students need to hear what the results from this election might be.

Having conversations like these are difficult, but as their teacher I have the obligation to have them. My job is to facilitate a process for my students to face reality and if it gets them frustrated, angry or depressed together we learn how to use those emotions to understand the world and change it so others do not feel the same. To do this, in the circle my students read a quote by W.E.B. Du Bois that says, “A system cannot fail those it never meant to protect.”

My students understood what he meant. “Mr. Juarez this country wasn’t built for us, but we are fighting to change that,” said one student.

I thought back to the first day of school where I explained to my students that I decided to be a teacher due to my experience facing oppression and desire to teach young people about these experiences. I shared my immigration status of being undocumented. I informed them that due to community organizing some undocumented people got DACA. Many of my students know what is DACA because they have heard it on the news, have a family member with it or they also have DACA.

The first image I show my students is of me getting arrested. “Why did you do it?” is what my students ask. I tell them, “Sometimes you need to make a sacrifice to achieve change. I did this to help stop deportations.” I ask my students to look closely at who is in the background of the photo. They say they see other people. I clarify that in the background is my community demonstrating love and support.

In the circle students continued to think of solutions answering the question, What do we have to do in the next four years? Students replied hat we need to educate Trump supporters about the negative impacts Trump could have in the community. Other responses were: by uniting together to demonstrate, requiring students to take classes like ethnic studies, and, of course, they also included moving to Canada. 

I closed the circle telling them that they have my full support if they or their loved ones are under attack. They also let me know that they have my back. I feel confident we will use this dark moment to bring light to our society in order to organize for a more loving, democratic and sustainable future.



Related Media:
A DACA Recipient’s Horrified Viewing of a Trump Election 

Inspired by Baldwin, an Ethnic Studies Teacher is Ready to Take On A Second Year 

DACA: Returning Home to Mexico After More Than 20 Years

This article is part of the categories: Community  / Economy  / Education  / Immigration  / Law & Justice  / Politics  / San Jose//South Bay 
This article is part of the tags: DACA  / Donald Trump  / Education  / Elections 2016  / Presidential Election  / Students  / Trump  / Youth 


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