“Real Americans” in the News
There has been a lot of talk in the news, on social media, and on the radio, about some of the comments made by prominent citizens in our country, on the subject of what it looks like to be a “real American.”
As most of us did, regardless of our own political and religious views, I reacted strongly to some of the messaging that I heard and saw.
A very wise friend of mine once told me, “If something upsets you, don’t do anything. Sleep on it. If you are still upset the next day, THEN do something about it.”
The next day, I was still aching, deep in my heart. But, being a teacher, I have learned that there is ALWAYS something to be learned, no matter how tragic, painful or even benign, the situation. So I set about trying to figure out what it was that I (ME!) needed to learn about what it was to be a REAL American.
The #RealAmericans Project
I created my own challenge, entitled #RealAmericans, and created a Facebook album to share as I learned (a Pinterest page will follow… stay tuned). I didn’t want it to be politically or religiously biased in any way, so I had to think hard about what messages I wanted it so give. Here are the messages I hope people hear/see from this project.
- Diversity is a strength. I want the project to include Americans of all kinds, of all races, of all walks of life.
- Love wins. No matter what the image, I wanted it to project a message of love. People might not agree with a political viewpoint, but they can’t disagree with love.
- Real Americans spend their lives doing wonderful, ordinary, ground-breaking things. Diapering a toddler is as important as owning a company; tending an orphaned duck is as important as leading a protest. Running a classroom is as important as running a bank or running a marathon.
- Everyone is my neighbor. Yes, even the ones I disagree with. Maybe even don’t like that well.
- There is always a story behind the image. Images we see in the news are real people. With real, American stories.
- Americans share common values. I want to include at least three photos from each of the 50 states and the protectorates of our country. At least one photo should show racial diversity. One photo shares a love theme.
Your Own #RealAmericans Project
If controversy arises in your classroom over what kids see in the news, instead of persuading them, challenge them to do their own #RealAmericans Project. Make sure that they include the story of the individual in the caption.
- the person’s name
- a brief description of the person’s role(s)
- a statement about the person’s life.
- the location of the photo
- proper image credit
If you choose to do your own #RealAmericans Project, please link up the post or album in the comments section, below. Feel free to use the hashtags #RealAmericans and #DiversityisStrength. I would ask that you keep to the messages that I listed above, and keep the message positive and loving.