Video by Emily Brustoski
The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Kramer Elementary students want to put an end to white supremacy, and they have a plan.
As assistant news editor Ceili Doyle reported last month, third-graders Noel, Oliver and Paul spoke at a Not In Our Town (NIOT) interest meeting last month. NIOT, which was nationally established in 1995 and introduced to Oxford last fall, is a movement that aims “to stop hate, address bullying and build safe, inclusive communities for all,” according to its website.
The elementary students’ own website, stopwhitenationalism.weebly.com, which they’ve set up as part of their initiative to bring about social change, shares the same message against white nationalism. Noel, whose father immigrated from Cuba, said at the meeting that he first heard of the phenomenon on the radio, and that he “didn’t want [it] to happen to anyone else.”
Obviously, we know these kids can’t dismantle the centuries-old institution of white supremacy. But change has to start somewhere, and historically, it tends to start with younger generations. It’s imperative that, when we encounter kids like Noel, Oliver and Paul, we put our own cynicism aside to support and encourage them.
These kids are post-millennials — so young there is not yet a universally accepted name for them and their peers. While every generation grows up with different sets of issues, it’s important to remember that theirs is the first one which has had to watch these issues constantly play out on TV, social media and the internet, whether they want to or not. We often grossly underestimate how aware kids are of what’s going on around them, and the Kramer Elementary students, already social activists, are proof of that.
The NIOT interest meeting took place a month ago, but since Miami is currently celebrating its annual Diversity Week, it’s the perfect time to reflect on its message, to think about how we can engage in activism ourselves and how we can shape Miami into a school we want these kids to ultimately attend.
While there is no easy solution for white nationalism threatening to infringe on our town, or any other major political issue dominating the news right now, educating ourselves and listening to these kids is a good place to start. While Oliver acknowledged that they “probably” won’t achieve their goal in the next few years, that doesn’t mean it won’t have any effect on their community.
“The biggest thing that’s probably gonna happen in the next four to eight years,” Noel said, “Is Miami will listen to us.”
Noel, Oliver and Paul might choose to attend Miami in nine years. If, as third-graders, they’re already speaking to rooms of adults at town meetings about combating white nationalism, and have produced an interactive website on the subject, think of all they’ll be able to do as college students — and before then — with support from their community. That community includes Miami students, who can check out these students’ website and follow Not In Our Town on social media, in addition to attending Diversity Week events and other events (and protests) later in the semester.
If Noel, Oliver and Paul do choose to come here, we hope that hazing is something they hear stories about, not experience, that they don’t need an “It’s On Us” campaign to teach people about consent, that every student feels comfortable and welcomed here, no matter their sex, gender, nationality or religion, and that diversity is something Miami is known for, not something the school has to strive for.