Education as a Disruptor to Intolerance

Education as a Disruptor to Intolerance

By Xavier Taylor

Some might say that the current administration’s policies and rhetoric about immigration project a type of hyper-nationalism. One way to combat this hyper-nationalism that can breed suspicion of immigrants is to educate individuals on the people of other cultures. Learn who they are, why they’re here, and how they may hold similar hopes for the future.

Ronald W. Whitaker, Ed.D, Assistant Professor of Education & Director of School Relations in the School of Education at Cabrini University, believes that education plays a vital role combatting hyper-nationalism. "I believe that the racist rhetoric and xenophobia deals with larger issues pertaining to racism and who we value as important and deem to be worth our time,” he said. “This in turn can breed not only ignorance and violence but also alienation from legitimate information which can cause a plethora of different issues for our migrant population.”

Whitaker is often invited into school districts to provide K-12 teachers with professional development on diversity and inclusion. As an educator of teachers and future teachers, Whitaker is also laying the foundation with them to educate their students on the value of difference and the richness of other cultures.

Jennifer Bulcock Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Assistant Director of the Center on Immigration at Cabrini University, believes our nation’s school system needs to be frank about our nation’s history – the good and the bad. She  stated, I have found that the formula to the issues that we as a country face is one of reluctance to change and one of complicity. In the United States in our textbooks, we have a encoded way of thinking about American history and whose a part of that history."

Bulcock continues, “Most textbooks do a clean and progressive narrative of American history, that starts with one event of history that points ours as a system towards progress. This is narrative is dangerous because it can either mislead or oversimplify the truth of our history.” Textbooks used in K-12 classrooms typically do not go into great detail on the immigration process and the steps to becoming a citizen.

Nuresebah Alkabir is a young immigrant who recently became a U.S. citizen. She describes the process as difficult and impersonal. “They really only asked me 10 questions even though there was like 100 different ones we had to study, Alkabir said. “I felt like they were looking for reasons to fail and deny me my citizenship, not to mention how expensive it is to take it.”

The New York Times reported on a Gallup poll taken during the first two weeks of June 2018 by more than 1,500 adults. That study found that “despite the contentious political climate, 75 percent of Americans think immigration, in general, is good for the nation. Among Democrats and those who lean toward the party, 85 percent viewed immigration positively, compared with 65 percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican." When asked their thoughts about “legal immigration” specifically, even more Americans, about 84 percent, said it was good for the country.

Whitaker sees students as integral in the “fight” for equality in immigration. “Students need to continue to fight because student intervention is very important to cause change," he said. "Whether it's marching, holding student protests, or writing papers, we need to support everything these students are doing because they have to march on for those who can't do it.”

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