Intimidation and Harassment in the Aftermath of the Trump Election: What Do We Do Now?
Intended Audience: Middle and High School Students
Overview: This lesson explores 867 hate incidents that were reported, collected, and analyzed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) just 10 days after the 2016 Trump election. The incidents documented in this report do not include the majority of hate incidents that have occurred since November 8, 2016. “The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that over two-thirds of hate-crimes go unreported to the police. In light of the Trump election, students may also be grappling with hate incidents at their schools and in their communities and may be struggling with their own roles during the incidents: as perpetrators, as bystanders, as targets/agents, or allies to the targets/agents. In this lesson, students will become familiar with incidents from the nation as well as in their own communities and schools. Additionally, they will examine the interpersonal conflicts between those who share their perspectives and those who have differing perspectives. They will also write a short social activist plan in response to those incidents. A goal is for students to understand the harmful effects of hate incidents and ones like it in their schools and communities, and how they play a role in each one of these incidents. An example of incidents that students will read about is as follows:
In the SPLC report, a Washington state teacher reported that at her school:
“Build a wall” was chanted in our cafeteria Wed [after the election] at lunch. “If you aren’t born here, pack your bags” was shouted in my own classroom. “Get out spic” was said in our halls.
A mother from Colorado offered this story:
My 12-year-old daughter is African American. A boy approached her and said, “Now that Trump is president, I’m going to shoot you and all the blacks I can find.”
Students will have opportunities to examine their own role in incidents, like the ones shared above, and to understand the symbiotic role we play in a complex society, whether willingly or unwittingly. For instance: students who come from white nationalist families, who take the stance of denial of these incidents or who act as perpetrators of these incidents need to understand their role as perpetrator or bystander. Perpetrator or bystander= injustice, and sometimes death. Conversely, students who operate as spectators bear the same responsibility.
Scope and Sequence: This lesson begins with students reading the entire report (a primary source) written by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The report is divided up into eight sections: anti-Immigrant incidents; anti-Black incidents; anti-Muslim incidents; anti-LGBT incidents; anti-Women incidents; anti-semitism incidents; White nationalism incidents; and anti-Trump incidents. It is important to note that of the 867 hate incidents, only 23 incidents were anti-Trump. Students will examine individuals, groups and institutions.
Historical Thinking Standards (National Standards for U.S. History)
Common Core State Standards
This lesson plan is designed to meet the Common Core State Standards in History/Social Studies for grades 6th-12th grades:
- be able to describe interactions between and among individuals, groups, and institutions. Learners will be able to identify and describe examples of tensions between and among individuals, groups and institutions.
- be able to show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote or fail to promote the common good.
- be able to gather information about groups in their school through such tools as surveys and interviews.
- demonstrate understanding by writing paragraphs that describe relationships between individuals, groups, and institutions.
Teacher Preparation and Background Knowledge:
Please review the strategies and content needed to effectively teach this lesson.
1) Students will identify and note details about the following “hate” incidents in the Southern Poverty Law Center Report (SPLC):
2) Students will review, research, and synthesize the major incidents that happened since Trump won the 2016 presidential election from the SPLC and their own school and community.
- Students should write a 2-page synthesis of the SPLC report.
- Students should research harassment and intimidation in their own school and community under their teachers’ supervision to local new sources, school paper, and/or primary sources that the teacher deems appropriate for this exercise.
- Students should write an updated synthesis adding on to the SPLC report including their own school and community.
- Have students ask questions to lead to reflections on an action plan.
- Take out a copy of Linda Christiansen’s “Acting for Justice” Handout. Give student at least 2-3 copies of it.
- Go over one of the incidents in the SPLC report or, if available and emotionally safe for the students, a local school or community incident.
- Have students identify the targets and/or agents, allies, bystanders, and perpetrators or an incident.
- Then ask students to identify where they fall/fell into the categories during the incident or where they would fall into the categories during a similar incident.
4) Community Praxis:
- Have students work individually to come up with an activist plan to educate others about Harassment and Intimidation since the Trump election.
- Encourage students to discuss ways to educate the public through social media, peaceful protests, and youth teach-ins to increase public awareness and with the goal of strengthening relationships between individuals, groups, and institutions.
- How have I been affected by harassment and intimidation in the wake of the Trump election? How has my school and community been affected by harassment and intimidation in the wake of the Trump election?
- What are effective ways to respond to hate incidents in the wake of the Trump election? What is my social activist plan?
Day One: Understanding Harassment and Intimidation in the Wake of the Election
- Tell the students that they are going to spend the three days talking about harassment and intimidation in the wake of the 2016 Trump Election.
- Activate prior knowledge by asking the students to share what they know about hate crimes and harassment after the Trump election. Write their answers on the board and tell them the class will review the list after the readings to see what is confirmed by the report, noting that the report does not contain all incidents as 2/3 of hate crimes and incidents go unreported.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere”. -Dr. Martin L. King
- Explain to students that they are going to read a collection of real harassment, intimidation, and hate crimes that have happened in the United States since the Trump Election on November 8, 2016.
- Start by reading a few of the incidents that have occurred across the nation. Refer to a common incident in the local school or community that the students may or may not be familiar with so they know this is going to be a sensitive topic.
- Organize students in a large group (to prevent any potential bullying or mean comments that may happen in small groups about these incidents). Have them start in a round-robin fashion to read the sections aloud, taking turns.
- Discuss what they learned from the report. Have student identify and take notes about the incidents—asking probing questions: What do you notice but did not expect? What do you notice that you can’t explain? Why do you think this is an important lesson? Why do you think this is happening?
DAY TWO: Review, Synthesize and Research
- Building on the previous activity, this lesson allows students research hate crimes or incidents that may have happened in their own community or school using primary sources deemed by the teacher.
- Have students review what they read yesterday and write a 1-2 page synthesis of the SPLC’s report.
- Using primary local news sources such as the high school’s newspaper, local news stations, and any other sources deemed appropriate by the teacher, students will research harassment and intimidation incidents happening in their own community and school in research groups assigned by their teacher using the internet, google scholar, and library search engines. Students will write a paragraph or two building upon their synthesis of the SPLC’s report about their own community.
- Students discuss what they learned with the teacher about their local school and community. Questions such as: How has my school and community been affected by harassment and intimidation in the wake of the Trump election?
- For high school students, have the students watch “Social Justice SOS: What Happened, What’s Coming, and Why We Must Join Together Against Hate,” for homework.
DAY THREE: Self-Reflection
- Discuss the Social Justice SOS video and students’ reactions to the images and narratives and research presented to the audience.
- How did the video make you feel?
- What were some of the new vocabulary words you learned or have questions about from the video?
- What did you learn from watching the video about why we must join together against harassment, intimidation and hate?
- Tell students that today they are going to work as one large group with the teacher as facilitator to re-read a harassment or intimidation incident from their local community and/or the SPLC report.
- After the reading, give students Christensen’s “Acting for Justice,” Handouts.
- Define target/agent, perpetrator, bystander, and ally. Give students a chance to respond to their local incident(s) and one national incident from the SPLC report.
- Have students quietly (with a pencil) identify themselves (where they would have been) as targets and/or agents, allies, bystanders, or perpetrators during the national incident.
- Then ask students to identify where they fall/fell into the categories during the local incident and where they would fall into the categories today since the lesson.
Teacher asks students to respond to the questions, only if they feel safe enough to share:
- How have I been affected by harassment and intimidation in the wake of the Trump election?
- How have I been changed since we started these readings and discussions?
- What are effective ways to respond to hate incidents in the wake of the Trump election?
- What is my social activist plan?
DAY FOUR or WRAP-UP
- Ask students to write about one way that they can become social activists in their school and communities.
- Provide examples of how youth have done this through peaceful protests, social media blasts, and teach-ins around the nation.
- Pass-out notecards. Ask students to write down their social activist plan.
- Reiterate the following sentiment: When we become activists in our community and school, we are standing together against hate and injustice.
 One may be a target as a member of a marginalized group, but target may connote a victim mentality. So agent is a preferred term which encapsulates the life members of marginalized groups may experience as they navigate daily barriers to overcome racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, islamophobia, xenophobia, and antisemitism.