Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

What kind of person?

December 12, 2016

What kind of person attacks two moms pushing their infants in strollers, punching the women, trying to rip off their headscarves, attempting to knock over the strollers, and screaming at them, “get the f*ck out of America b*tches, you don’t belong here.”? Emirjeta Xhelili is that person’s name.

What kind of America do we want?

What kind of America do we want?

What kind of person shoves a sixteen-year old boy and calls the boy’s mother (an 11-year veteran of the NYPD) a member of the Islamic State terrorist group, threatens to cut her throat and tells her to go back to her country? Christopher Nelson is that person’s name.

What kind of teacher tells African-American students: “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.” John Sousa from Wesley Chapel, Florida is that teacher’s name.

What kind of person pulls a 75-year-old gay man from his car and beats him, saying “You know my new president says we can kill all you f*ggots now.” A person in Sarasota, Florida.

Caitlin Dickerson recently wrote in her New York Times article Postelection Harassment, Case by Case “Vandalism, offensive jokes, even criminal assault — reports of bias-based harassment have spiked since Trump’s victory in the presidential race.”

Yeah, I’ve noticed.

So has the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the days following the election, they surveyed more than 10,000 K-12 grade educators across the country. Ninety percent of them reported that school climate has been “negatively impacted.”  There is a name for impact. It is being called the Trump Effect. SPLC’s report goes on to say survey results indicated “… the campaign is having a profoundly negative impact on schoolchildren across the country, producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.”

Many educators fear teaching about what’s been happening since the election.

Push through the fear, teachers, and do your job.

This isn’t about politics or taking sides. This is about moral leadership. We all remember that, right? Helping kids develop a moral compass is the essence of teaching. Children have to be taught not to hate and fear. It has to come from those of us who understand why getting along with others is the curriculum.  Don’t let people with hate-filled hearts teach your children or intimidate them or make them feel “less than.”

If those essential lessons of cooperation and understanding, respect and compassion, justice and equality are not taught, at home and at school, if we do not instill in our kids the courage to stand up and speak out against injustice wherever we see it, we have lost the heart and soul of America.

What kind of person are you? What kind of person are you teaching your child to be?

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Despite what you’re seeing, Americans are not filled with hate

March 11, 2016

Open letter to all people of good will living outside the United States:

hate (2)If you have been shocked and dismayed by what’s happening at Donald Trump campaign rallies, so have millions of Americans. Mr. Trump’s racist, anti-Muslim, sexist, anti-immigrant rhetoric and the violence he insights has appalled us. We are deeply troubled by and frightened at the possibility of a Trump presidency. But instead of soul-searching and doing the societal work to reduce racism and xenophobia in America, we’ve simply scratched our heads and asked: What the hell is going on with these Trump supporters that they are so filled with hate? I’ve asked myself that question repeatedly as Trump rally assaults continue. But I won’t be asking it any more. It’s a meaningless question.

To be “filled with hate” implies that nothing but hate exists within a person. We all have the seeds of hate within us. We also have a lot more. We are at the affect of an ever-changing mix of emotions that can, in an instant, turn a rational, cooperative person into a raging monster. We know this is true. We’ve seen it happen in ourselves. We’ve all, at times, been so filled with anger and resentment and so blinded by fear and ignorance we have wished another harm. We might have even felt so pushed over the edge that we acted on those feelings with ugly words and clenched fists.

There is no  excuse or justification for violence. Our only hope is understanding how emotions affect us so we can learn to manage them without resorting to violence. That is our greatest human challenge.

Here in America, many of us have taken up this challenge within ourselves. We are also working to educate our children in the ways of non-violence. Undoubtedly, you are doing the same work.  Wish us well in this endeavor. We wish you the same. Our shared humanity depends on it.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 11:29 am
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You’ve got to be taught to hate

March 3, 2016

The list of Racist Things that Have Happened at Trump Rallies grows like weeds in manure. With fear and loathing I watch what Trump encourages his followers to do.  As a Jew, I wonder when these bullies will put on their brown shirts. I wonder what it will take to wake-up the media and the community of the open-minded. Are we there yet? Or will it take more violence at one of these rallies? A murder perhaps? Think that will do it?

Where do white supremacists with their anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, antieveryone but my kind rhetoric learn their lessons of hate?

You've got to be taught to hate and fear.

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.

“You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” is a cage-rattling song from the musical South Pacific. Written in 1949, the song openly examines racial intolerance and its power to divide us. The producers tried to ax it from the show. Fortunately, they didn’t win that argument.

Anyway, here are the lyrics. Find it on YouTube. Powerful stuff:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Just curious, how are you talking to your kids about what’s going on? And while we’re thinking about prejudice, what take-away lessons did you got from your parents when it came to how to treat people who are different from you? In what ways are you transmitting the same or different messages to your kids? As always, your comments are welcome.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , — Annie @ 3:49 pm
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What racism teaches

February 29, 2016

When I watched a 52 second video of a couple of 5-year-old girls beating up a three-year-old my heart ached. Then my head exploded. The assault is a hate crime. Yeah, kindergartners are plenty old enough to hate. (I’d share the link, but the video has been taken off FB. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it’s hard to watch. On the other hand, we can’t fix what we don’t see.)

Children being cruel. Deeply disturbing. Goes without saying. But please don’t rush to judgment. The little African American girls, and their older brother who is laughing and egging them on, are not “bad” children. They are simply responding to the lessons of parents’ who, by the way, aren’t “bad” either. Mom and Dad are doing what all parents do… trying to keep their children safe. Many black parents are doing their damnedest to protect their kids from whites who would hold them back, put them down, push them aside and do them harm. Why should we be surprised if they teach their children that white people are the “enemy?” That’s what you’re seeing here… young children fighting against the enemy as it has been defined for them.

The way it is for too many kids.

The way it is for too many kids.

If we are honest we can’t pretend to wonder how this came to be. After generations of systemic racism do white people expect people of color to view us as their friends? To the degree whites lump together all African Americans and continue to deny them opportunities to live in peace and prosperity, it’s reasonable to assume people of color lump together all whites.

Of course everyone should deplore the treatment of the little white girl in the video. But instead of getting caught up in righteous indignation, how about committing ourselves to changing an economic, educational, political and judicial  system that is rigged against people of color? With equal opportunity there will be less hate all around.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: — Annie @ 7:35 pm
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