There have been a lot of mixed emotions since the announcement of Donald Trump’s presidential-election win Tuesday.
People have expressed outrage, despair, denial and just a general sense of hopelessness, even after Trump had a cordial meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday to discuss the transition.
In the midst of all this, Jasmyn Wright, a third-grade reading teacher in Philadelphia, is delivering a message of hope to her class, encouraging her students to “push through” in the face of adversity.
“What if it’s too hard?” Wright asked her students.
“I’m gonna push through!” a chorus of little voices responded.
“What if it’s too tough?” she continued.
“I’m gonna push through!” the class answered.
“What if you’re too young?” Wright asked.
“That ain’t true!” the students answered.
“What if you’re too black?”
“That ain’t true!”
Wright, who is also a poet and spoken-word artist, shared video of her powerful interaction with her class in a Facebook post that has since been viewed over 500,000 times.
Wright, an alum of Spelman College, told The Root that she is really big into encouraging and empowering youths and that she thought that this particular lesson of pushing through was just as important the day after the election.
“I know that with my class specifically, sometimes they struggle with believing in themselves or sometimes they struggle with grappling through an assignment or they struggle with interactions with their peers,” the 27-year-old said.
“With the election that went on, they were more troubled and they were upset,” she continued. “[So I thought,] yes, this is true, this has happened, but that doesn’t stop us from pushing through. We still have a calling, we still have a purpose, we still are made to leave an imprint in the world, and we cannot give up because of whatever happened.”
When asked if perhaps some may think her third-graders are too young to absorb such a lesson or recognize the importance of what happened during the election, Wright explained that sometimes we limit the knowledge of our young people.
“They live in the same world that we do, they watch the same shows that we do, they listen to the same music, they hear the same news, and they are sponges and they soak things in. They’re also intelligent, so they can gain their own knowledge on issues,” she said.
And while Wright cannot and does not tell her children how to think or what to believe, she absolutely wants them “to love themselves and who they are.”
“I want them to be their own source of encouragement when it seems there is no one else around who believes in them,” she said, adding that she works mostly through positive affirmations.
This is the kind of work Wright is truly passionate about. Wright joined two friends, Charlotte Miller-Lacy and Melody Phillips, to start the nonprofit I Am My Sister’s Keeper, which she says emphasizes much of the same things that she tries to bring to her class. The organization focuses on girls ages 12 to 18.
“Our vision is to successfully stand with and support girls as they move through the passages of womanhood, while instilling motivation, determination and sheer willpower in them,” the group states on its website.
“My students know who they are, they know what’s expected of them, [and] expectations for them are high. Once you present a person with a sense of identity or with a sense of responsibility … they are going to act to par,” she said. “I don’t do much management in my classroom because my students are already filled with these gifts of affirmation, these gifts of expectation which allow for minimal management in the classroom for us because they want to succeed; they want to maximize their potential. I teach all of them every day that they are born with a gift, that [they] are not a mistake, that [they] were born for a reason.
“Whenever we’re having a rough day,” she said, “I tell them, ‘Don’t let your purpose go to waste.’”