If you ever caught an episode of “MasterChef Junior” you know that not only do kids say the darnedest things, sometimes they are more adult than the adults around them. Jordan McCray-Robinson proves that point.
Last month, students from New Jersey’s South Orange Middle School, on a field trip to the nation’s capital, had a chance for a photo-op with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Along with almost one hundred fellow students, Jordan refused to take part in what he called “a publicity stunt.”
Of course, the story immediately went viral. Jordan saw the comments to a photo posted by Speaker Ryan on Instagram and responded with an opinion piece for his local newspaper, “where he defended his decision, speaking with more spit, vinegar, and passion than adult pundits.”
Jordan backed up his position with a letter to the editor in his local paper, The Village Green. Even better, he did it in such a clear and concise way that his critics would have a tough job responding.
Jordan was not content to simply voice his mind. He went to the trouble of actually interviewing teachers and fellow students.
Responding to a comment implying that the students who refused were brainwashed by their teachers, “…useful idiots that they are.” Jordan wrote about what his teacher had to say: “As I always tell my students, my goal as a teacher is never to tell students what to think. I do everything I can to provide all my students the critical thinking skills and opportunities to form their own opinions. In my classroom alone, I have seen students provide different, conflicting opinions when it comes to debates and discussions. Not only that, but I have seen my kids respect each other even if they have different opinions. Young people are capable of so much, especially in terms of formulating their own beliefs and stances on issues that affect the world around them.”
Jordan wants to tell America that 8th graders are entitled to an opinion. He stands by his decision that he “didn’t want to take a picture with someone who doesn’t have my best interests in mind. Mr. Ryan and the administration want to cut health care for 23 million people. Am I one of those U.S citizens that will be affected?”
Fellow student Livvy Krakower told Jordan, “I think it’s more than just a picture, If I was in the picture I would feel like a hypocrite due to the fact of his anti LGBTQ+ rules, as a member of the community I felt like I would be betraying myself.”
Even students who were in the picture say it is not automatically an endorsement of Ryan or his policies. Tristan Reynolds is quoted in the letter, “I was in the picture because I felt like it would be cool to be in the picture with the Speaker of the House not necessarily because of his views but because of the power of his job. I think a lot of people on the internet didn’t understand the situation and took the picture out of context and thought we were in the picture to support him — which many of us don’t.”
An anonymous classmate added, “I was in the picture and I took a picture with him because he’s third in line to be the President and he’s a powerful man in our government even though I don’t support him. We were also under the impression that we would be able to ask him some questions. After the picture, he signed someone’s Declaration of Independence, then got in a car and left.”
The best observation came at the end of his letter. To respond to a troll who called the refusal disgusting and a disgraceful lack of respect, Jordan shows he is far beyond his years in his thinking, saying;
“I respect my elders and Mr. Ryan, but I will not take a picture with someone who stands behind a president who wants to ban Muslims from the country because they worship differently. Why should Muslims or anyone else be banned from this country because of our president’s lack of understanding and compassion for people who aren’t white, male or Christian? I respect views and opinions that differ from mine and I expect the same when it comes to my opinion. I will not tolerate my peers and I being shamed for voicing our opinions. My generation is the future. I will be working and living in a society created by today’s decisions. So why shouldn’t I be able to speak my truth?”
You may share this post on Facebook and Twitter.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below: