|Crossing Brooklyn Bridge (M.A. Reilly, 1.10.18)|
"Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday. (From: The Washington Post, 1.11.18)
Yesterday I worked at MS 88 in Brooklyn all day. It’s an amazing middle school and when I was leaving about 6 pm, the halls were still filled with students. It’s a school where the energy of learning is so prominent. I caught a ride to Penn Station from a local car service (thanks Ailene) and enjoyed an hour long conversation with Muhammed, who hails from the west coast of Africa, from the country of Gambia.
“It is the smallest country in Africa,” Muhammed told me. “A most beautiful country. Our coast is so lovely. Few here seem to know of it.”
“I would like to visit,” I told him.
Our conversation eventually focused on learning and I told him a bit about my day at MS 88: the inspiring teachers and principal, the dynamic young people, and the joy of learning.
“I have the best job,” I said laughing. “I get paid to work and learn with other people. I swear I learn far more from them than I suspect they learn me. It really is a privilege.”
“Your words. They inspire me,” Muhammed said. “I have been thinking about what I want to do. Your stories give me ideas.”
“It is hard to say.”
“What are you considering?”
“In two years I want to return to my country. I will work with young people like you do here. I too would like to teach.”
“It is such satisfying work.”
“I will work hard to be able to do it. This gives me purpose.”
“Working with others makes me happy. But I think you’ll see that working alongside children is the best.”
“Yes, I think so too.”
This morning I thought of Muhammed when I read The Washington Post article that recounted Trump’s course language while revealing his racist dogma. Imagine a president who speaking publicly refers to other countries as shitholes where the dominant race is African while suggesting we allow more Norwegians, where the dominant race is white, to immigrate? I thought Muhammed is a man Trump will never know and frankly we are all the worse for it.
How very sad and tiresome it is to toil beneath the weight of this old, angry white guy who a minority of voters elected. How stuck we are. It is also frightening when I consider that this very unstable imbecile is one of the most powerful people on the planet. His small, little bubble of like-minded white men denies him access to other. Without encounters with other, we are likely doomed to repeat mistakes and to think our current reality represents the whole of the world.
At the very least we ought to demand a president who is (other)wise.