What I Will Teach On Inauguration Day (and Every Day After)

Originally in EdWeek


For some, the morning will seem like any other.
They will bounce and bound to school,
filled with childlike ignorance at what the
grown ups are doing thousands of miles away.

They, of whooping joys and laughter that dances,
even though they are frightened,
even when they are confused,
even when they are filled with righteous indignation,
that, someday, things will be okay.
They, in their childhood, still possess
the magic of hope.

And this is where I will begin.

I will teach them to bound and bounce
unapologetically in a world that wants to
tie them to chairs. In a world that seeks to confine
them to the white-black of dotted answers, I will show
them how to set down the paper, and step—no, leap—
back to see shades of grey.

I will teach them to measure their value in
joy, in passion, in the white-hot eureka of discovery.
When they are given the zero-sum answer, I will
remind them they have the power to say, “No.”
I will show them they can, they must, demand
their worth not be ignored.

When their strengths go unnoticed because
they are showing them to a world that has never
sought to understand them, I will teach them not
to see the pointing fingers as spotlights of shame
but as beacons of innovation.

When what they bring to the table is stamped “unacceptable,”
I will tell them to use the red ink to write
their immeasurable selves into doctrine and declaration,
into manifesto, into the scripture of their sacred minds.

I will show them megaphones and tell them their voices
were not made to be silenced, but savored as the
saviors of the next generation.

When the homelands of their forefathers are named
with spit and distaste on the tongue,
I will remind them that they are
born from people who looked at the stars
and saw uncharted pathways, who took
earth and made their own manna, who
learned to read currents and ride sunsets.

In the end, the only thing I will give them
is a mirror. When they stare at me, wide-eyed
in wonder, in terror, in fear, in joy—when they
ask me what the answer is or how to fix
the problems. I will simply hold up the
mirror and tell them the power to rise up
is already inside. It is in their whooping
joy and laughter that dances. It is in their
bounding and bouncing and in the magic,
unbridled and burning in them, called hope.

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