Maple Grove High School is about five miles from where I’m writing this. It’s a suburban Twin Cities school with an enrollment just north of 2,000 students. Yesterday, the day after the presidential election, some students painted racist and white supremacist graffiti in a couple of places around the school (see photo). As Shaun King has been documenting on his Twitter feed, these types of incidents—a boldness among racists to lash out against a multicultural United States—have been cropping all over the US. It’s a sad and regressive reaction by a small segment of Americans.
But check out the students’ reaction to the incident. Students organized quickly and arrived today before school to post messages of love and acceptance, and to greet everyone who entered the school with cheers and welcomes. It’s an incredibly powerful action likely started by a few individuals that made a huge difference in a community. The video segment of the person walking down the cheering rows of students brought tears to my eyes. I can’t watch that and not feel a great sense of hope for the future of our country.
— Mark Cook (@MGCoachCook) November 10, 2016
The pairing of incidents reminded me of a story that George Couros told in his keynote speech at the TIES Conference last year. He talked about a presentation he was giving to students at a school on the power of Twitter. He had a hashtag stream displayed on the screen for everyone to see, and invited students to participate in the public discussion. To his shock, the first few tweets were from a couple of students about out how stupid the whole thing was. Couros was stunned and didn’t know what to do. The presentation was on the verge of falling apart. But after a pause, one brave student tweeted a positive message, and then soon yet another followed. What happened next was an avalanche of support for his presentation. The message of his story was this: overwhelm the negative with the positive.
And that’s exactly what Maple Grove students did today: overwhelmed ignorance with love. Regardless of our political alignment, it’s uplifting guidance for all of us.
— coach lombo (@lombocrimson) November 10, 2016
— Maddie Leyse (@maddieleyse) November 10, 2016