Waking up to teach the day after the presidential election of 2016 was one of the most surreal moments of my more than decade-long teaching career. The demographics of the high school where I was teaching four years ago were roughly 50 percent white and 50 percent Black, Indigenous, and students of color. That morning, some of the students were excited; others were visibly upset. And as they walked into class, I handed them a sheet of loose-leaf and asked them to jot down whatever thoughts they had about the election. There was no rubric.
Students eagerly took pen to paper. I noticed one student write something brief and put her pencil down as other students continued to write. Her paper read, “I want to be in this country because I love it. I don’t know if this country wants me back now though.” I’ll never forget those words or the emotions on her face. I still have all of their writings from that day.