My name is Doug Heavisides.
And I am the very proud principal of the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (HACTC).
And I have a confession to make.
Well, not so much a confession as a statement.
A declaration, really.
I will never...
Refer to any student at the HACTC as ‘illegal…’
Or as an ‘alien.’
Or as ‘undocumented.’
Nor will I refer to their family members that way.
Or any other human, for that matter.
Student or not.
Doing so is wrong.
As an educator.
And for me, it would also be hypocritical.
(And I suspect the same of others that use those terms).
Given the ‘illegal’ behavior in my life.
And my ‘alien’ behavior.
And my ‘undocumented’ behavior.
And I consider myself an average American in the above mentioned.
I certainly live in a glass house.
With shiny windows.
That I take care of every day.
Rag in hand.
Windex at the ready.
Ready to polish away my hypocrisy.
Hence, I should not throw stones.
Particularly in labeling others.
I do not want my windows smashed after all, eh?
Yes, there is a log in my eye.
So I will not point out the splinter in others’ eyes.
No, I will never use those hurtful terms.
Those racist terms.
Like they are being used in my hometown right now.
Rather, I will refer to students as...students.
And their family members as…
Simply trying to better themselves.
And their children.
And their lives.
Doing so by leaving their place of birth and coming to Vermont.
‘Leaving’ and ‘coming’ because they did not win the birth lottery.
Like I did.
(And like their labelers did).
I will not use those terms.
Those hurtful and hypocritical labels.
I will simply call them people.
And I will call them by name, if I know it.
And if I do not know it, I will try like hell to learn it.
No matter the place of birth.
Or status of status.
Yes, I consider myself lucky.
That out of all the places in the world to choose from, Vermont was chosen.
My hometown was chosen.
As the place to come to.
To try and succeed.
Harder than most ‘legals.’
Or the ‘documented.’
Those who cite their patriotism to justify the labeling often ignore the Declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
And this declaration is not about politics.
Or the current political culture in this country.
Or my hometown.
‘This’ being my own declaration here, in this prosetry.
(As well as the Declaration quoted above).
Nor is about man’s laws.
Federal or otherwise.
Rather it is about humanness.
And what is right.
And life is right.
Education is right.
Opportunity is right.
Those that use the labels ‘illegal’, ‘alien’, or ‘undocumented’ drown in their hypocrisy.
A hypocrisy grounded in their behavior.
They have never done anything illegal….?
They have not done anything to separate themselves from their country?
They have never manipulated the system with their paperwork, their tax returns...maybe?
If not, I stand corrected.
But a lot of American citizens are too busy polishing their windows to recognize that hypocrisy.
And, I think, in that effort of polishing, they cannot see their fear in the reflection that is created.
A fear of others different than them.
A fear I just do not understand.
What is there to be afraid of?
Please, tell me you ‘concerned’ citizens of the Town of Hartford?
What are you afraid of?
That these learners and family members will do better than you?
Make more money?
Be more involved in the community?
Be more righteous?
Have a stronger moral compass?
Why use the the terms ‘illegal’, ‘alien’, ‘undocumented’, and an extreme cases ‘criminals?’
My assumption is because you are scared.
Of the above betterment, money, community involvement, righteousness, talent, compassion, success, and compass.
Yet it is claimed you are scared of the behavior.
That the behavior does not belong here.
The 'criminal' behavior.
So the chant becomes ‘Send them home.’
‘Send them back to where they came from.’
And I know that 'disgust' is based in my opinion.
But it is an opinion grounded in data.
Despite the one off situations that some people post on social media.
The data shows the most dangerous kind of person in America is not an 'illegal'.
Or an alien.
Or an undocumented.
It is the white man.
The white, American, male.
The white, American, male, citizen.
That commits the most crimes.
The most heinous crimes.
And kills the most people.
Kills the most American citizens.
So, again, why do you label ‘illegal’, ‘alien’, and ‘undocumented’ in hatred?
Because there is danger?
You label because they are different than you.
And yes, different skin colors.
You want to take action to improve our community?
Then make sure YOU are not illegal.
In your behavior.
And possibly your opinions.
And that you do not act like an alien.
And that you document yourself.
All of your actions.
Actions that need to meet the laws.
All the laws.
Not just the convenient ones that allow the labeling of others as a distraction away from your own behavior.
And yes, watch those white, male citizens.
They are dangerous.
And most certainly criminals.
So please stop hiding behind your keyboards.
And finding outlets where your racism is disguised.
Where you rearrange your prejudices.
And mix it with a hearty dose of emotion.
And then try to pawn it off as original thinking.
On social media, particularly.
The few of you that are heroes behind your keyboard are the minority.
As are the one or four the local paper reported to speak in public.
Neglecting the six or eight that spoke in opposition.
Yes, the labelers are louder.
Hiding behind toned intimidation.
But they still are not right.
Despite their volume.
And their polished windows.
In their glass houses.
And their sanded logs.
Stuck in their eye.
No, I will not refer to any student or any human on this earth as ‘illegal’, ‘alien’, or undocumented.
They are people.
Humans entitled to an education.
And the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness.