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Look to the lunchroom

One of our Facebook followers, librarian Danielle Winter, who I know from the Association of Jewish Libraries, posted the following on January 30, 2017. Look to the lunchroom, friends. #HBMaD #MakingaDifference

When I first started my job, I was told I would need to cover lunch duty, not my favorite of tasks. The cafeteria smelled of oily fish sticks and melting American cheese. I’d watch kids eat fried chicken and Fritos, followed by an ice cream cone. I was supposed to be the supervising teacher in the situation, but I was more like a judge, disgusted by the processed foods sitting on Styrofoam plates. And as if the food wasn’t bad enough, imagine the sound of 120 kindergarten and fifth grade voices bouncing off the walls of a tiny cafeteria with low ceilings and high-powered heat.

Then Trump became president and my claustrophobia didn’t matter anymore. The Cool Caf’s image and advertising ploys to look like the Saved by the Bell diner didn’t matter anymore. I mostly wondered how I would talk to my students about racism, bullying, and social justice.

I thought about it as I made my rounds around the tables. Nothing had changed for my students. Kids were having the same conversations they always did, next to their friends of every color in the rainbow from every culture on earth.

To think that Richard Spencer, the white supremacist, said on NPR, “Whenever many different races are in the same school, what will happen is that there’ll be a natural segregation at lunchtime, at PE.”

Don’t believe him. I am witness to every part of the lunchroom experience. Those 30 minutes I dreaded are the most important part of our children’s day.

Don’t underestimate the actions or knowledge of our children. They know a lot more than us.

Our children are the resistance.

Sincerely,
A teacher/librarian who won’t stand for American fascism or American cheese

Danielle Winter is a K-5 librarian in New Jersey who leads storytimes and teaches information literacy. She was previously the PR chair of the Association of Jewish Libraries.

For more resources from The Horn Book about social justice and activism, visit our Making a Difference landing page and look for the hashtag #HBMaD @HornBook and Facebook.com/TheHornBook.

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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