Trumpism Is, Perhaps Unsurprisingly, Turning Children Into Little Racist Shitheads

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Apologies for the nausea I’m about to bring into your life, though you probably saw this coming: child bullies are using Trump’s statements to ostracize their peers, particularly those who are not white.


BuzzFeed has an extensively reported piece on more than 50 incidents across the country of children and teens from kindergarten through 12th grade hurling racist invective at their classmates of color—an occurrence not unique to the Trump era but increased because of it—as reported by school districts to ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project. In each of those incidents, Trump’s name was invoked, whether in the context of how his presidency will change the circumstance of the student of color—“You’re going to be deported” to a Filipino 8th grader in San Antonio, for instance—or simply on the basis of his name in and of itself, which has apparently become a single-syllable shorthand for xenophobia and white supremacy even for young people:

In a stadium parking lot in Jacksonville, Florida, after a high school football game, white students chanted at black students from the opposing school: “Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump!”

The incidents BuzzFeed collected didn’t just occur in states where Trump won; they were documented in even “liberal” cities that overwhelmingly voted against him, proving that his rhetoric is pervasive and damaging beyond his frenzied supporter rallies. Educators in the school districts where such incidents occurred described to BuzzFeed difficulties with explaining to students why such invective was wrong without treading upon their political freedoms—and yet therein lies the rub, doesn’t it?

Over her 10 years as a middle school English teacher in Spokane Valley, Washington, Amanda Mead liked to shift her curriculum based on current events. She assigned readings from the civil rights era when protests roiled Ferguson in 2014. In 2012 and 2008, her classroom discussions often turned to the presidential election.

“We’d talk about Bush, Obama, McCain, et cetera, and the kids would just nod their heads,” Mead said. “But as the campaign heated up last year, I started to notice a pretty significant change among my kids. They would say things that I have never heard kids in my school district say. Far more vitriolic.”

She caught a group of white students following a Latino student in the hallway, taunting him with chants of “the wall’s coming!” and “Trump! Trump! Trump!” She overheard kids repeating insults Trump had aimed at Hillary Clinton.

While some teachers and experts cited chalked up the bullying to simple trolling or mimicking what they heard at home—an excuse that, frankly, doesn’t do much to assuage the dismay—BuzzFeed also reminds us that these bullies will be eligible to vote one day.

Full piece is here.

Editor in Chief, Jezebel. Chicana. Writing on politics, feminism, fashion, culture since 1999. Former music journalism professor (NYU), current board member for the Daily Princetonian.


Altaira Morbius has a phone

Middle school teacher here: I have had five major racist incidents (That we know of) this year, which is five more than my previous nine years of teaching combined.

What really makes me frustrated is that some teachers are afraid to call something a politician said “racist” because they feel like they are taking sides. I get it (I’m careful not to call the politician racist but the statement under discussion), but...guys, this is why we do this- to raise good kids that know racist shit when they see it.