Thank you to the second grade of Columbus Elementary School for inviting me to visit earlier this week.
While sitting criss-cross applesauce on the auditorium stage, I took questions for about 45 minutes. “What’s your favorite color?” . . . “How old are you?” . . . “What is a mayor’s day like?” . . . “Do you have a big house?” . . . “What are your kids’ names?”
All in good fun, until the session was just about over, and a girl in a pink shirt raised her hand to ask the following: “Why does the President hate Mexicans like me?” Heart-stopping and heart-breaking.
This was not a political event, and it would have been inappropriate for me to make a political speech, especially to such young children, but I did my best to reply. I told her that good leaders try to bring people together and emphasize the things we have in common, but that some leaders have a different view. And I assured her that, whatever happened in Washington, here in New Rochelle, everyone is respected, welcomed, and valued, no matter where they come from.
Questions of this kind are posed to parents and teachers every single day, in our community and in similar communities across the nation. It’s a painful reminder of how hateful words impact the most vulnerable among us, and a reminder, too, of our collective responsibility to offer love and support instead.