By Esther Yang
Do kids really know how to be activists? I have seen kids as young as three speak up. Kids do know what is right and wrong. It’s the adults who usually dismiss kids.
As the founder of bully-free zones in public schools, below are the activist kids whom I admire. I learned so much from their tenacity and persistency in their beliefs. Are they annoying at times? You betcha, but they are results oriented.
These kids, even with their strong innate belief system, are good listeners and will apologize if we can prove their logic illogical. They will apologize grudgingly at first but sincerely thereafter. 😊
The AAPI kids Activists to keep an eye on are:
I first met Sarah when she was in Pre-K. The sweetest child, who is kind to her classmates. She shares her snacks and toys. We saw her activism when an older student falsely accused another classmate. The teachers didn’t see it, so we needed the younger kids to say something. Sara stepped up and explained the situation. The older student wouldn’t give in and kept saying that Sara was too young to know anything or didn’t even see the event. Sara stood her ground, and finally the older kid buckled. His story crumbled and then he apologized.
Last month I saw Sara with her parents at a Stop Asian Hate rally. Her chubby cheeks are gone but her determination is still there with her strong outstretched arm holding her handmade “Stop Asian Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” signs.
Darwin said to me, “Today is the saddest day of my life.” When I asked him why, he said, “My best friend Eden is moving to California.” (Eden is another activist below.)
They were two peas in a pod. Darwin is of Indian descent; and Eden, Filipina. They loved one another, and always had each other’s back.
Darwin was an advanced green belt in Karate. He knew how to break multiple boards but never used his karate techniques on anyone. He was calm and gentle in every situation. Sometimes you meet a kid who is happy go lucky and that’s how Darwin was.
His activism is not being loud but rather reasoning things out with teachers and friends. He was able to tackle any issue and to articulate his thoughts or disagree with me calmly while listening for other ideas. It’s hard to believe he has been doing this since he was four. He is now ten years old. Darwin the wise Zen Master activist.
Eden is super smart, super talkative, follows the rules and at times becomes the teacher. She is not afraid of older kids. She would tell them, “Ms. Esther wouldn’t like that if she finds out.” And if the older kids told her to mind her own business or called her a tattle tale, she would look them in the eye and say, “I will tell anyway.” At three years old, she was fearless. Now at nine, she is even more fearless – a voice to be reckoned with.
When we had summer camp, Eden was the first to want to sign up for a sleepover at the museum. Unlike other kids, who are glued to their parents’ hips, Eden is independent, adventurous, and super ready to speak her mind. One clear trait of activism.
She rallied against Hate at Columbus Park in Chinatown. Her rally sign “Peace for everyone” is what is in Sage’s heart. Like all of us, she has a hard time comprehending the increase of Asian hate.
Sage is allergic to certain ingredients. Before she knew how to read, she would ask the adults if it were safe for her to eat. And if she wasn’t sure, she would either ask teachers to call her mom or aunt or she wouldn’t eat the snacks. Her self-care and keeping herself safe is top notch. We are talking about a 4-year-old who knows innately the dangers of eating the wrong food and making sure adults in her school life are aware of her allergies. She would ask me to read the certified organic snacks ingredients that we offered to ensure she can eat the snacks. Sage has an inquisitive activist mind.
Dylan is very funny. But he doesn’t know why his words and actions are funny. Even his gestures make me laugh. Never at him, but with him.
He would ask if he can have a different snack than we offered. We always said, everyone gets the same unless you are allergic to something then you get a different snack. He would hold on to the snacks, intently looking at it, and you could tell his mind was going a million miles a minute. After some reflection, he would announce his final decision, “Ok, I will eat it.” As if, he was doing us a favor and he was helping us make this decision! This is what is funny about Dylan, he took us through the process with serious thoughts, face grimaces, and wide-eyed focus.
Like an attorney with long winded closing arguments that never end, Dylan insisted that we teachers listen to him and why his logic is the only logic even if we think it is illogical. Even other teachers would be on his side and I’d have to tell them that he was just playing them.
Dylan is of Thai descent, speaks two languages and has a pure heart. He wants his reasons to be heard and acknowledged. Isn’t that what all activists want? To be persuasive so that our issues can be heard?
What can you do? Nurture and mentor our next generation to make this great city even better.
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