We Know Kindness, Inclusion & Love. HFP at the Women’s March on Portland.

HFP parent at women's march in Portland, OR

I was proud to carry a sign, claiming half of my heritage. Muslims are becoming increasingly vilified, scapegoated, and stereotyped  in this country, emboldened by top-down rhetoric. I wanted people to see a person, that for all intents and purposes, looks an awful lot like white privileged class, but who in fact stands to be a victim of Islamophobia. Stereotypes are wrong, hurtful and divisive. By claiming my heritage, in the face of animosity, I’m personalizing the stereotype, and sharing the vulnerability that my family and I stand to be hurt by the onslaught of anti-Muslim propaganda. – Mitra Anoushiravani, HFP President.

Kindness, inclusion and love are at the the core of the best early childhood curriculum.  Early childhood educators teach relationship-building, problem solving and respect. We teach that every classmate is valuable and we make space for varying perspectives, expressions and experiences.  We hold compassion and respect as the foundation for all learning.

Sadly, these basic practices affirming our shared humanity are grossly lacking in the current national leadership. So, when I was invited to speak at the Women’s March Pre-Rally for Children and Families, I knew that I would mirror what I teach in the classroom:


Some people say hateful messages.
Sometimes people say hurtful things to people who seem “different.”
But we know, those messages are wrong.
ALL people are important. ALL people belong. ALL people are equal.

Sometimes people say that boys are more important than girls.
But we know, girls are as important as anybody.

Sometimes people say hurtful messages about gender. They tell us we can either be a boy, and act one way, or a girl, and act a completely different way.
But we know, there are many, many ways to be human.

Sometimes people tease and say mean things about being gay or lesbian.
But we know, loving people is a good thing, no matter if you love someone who is the same sex as you, or not.

Sometimes people say that people with dark skin, or black skin, don’t matter as much as people with light skin or white skin.
But we know, Black Lives Matter.

Sometimes people say that immigrants and refugees don’t belong.
They say immigrants and refugees should leave.
But we know, immigrants and refugees belong and we welcome them.

Sometimes people say mean things about people who are Muslim or Jewish.
But we know, that people who are Muslim or Jewish are good people, just like everybody else.

Sometimes people say hurtful things about people with disabilities.
But we know, there are many good ways to be human.

Sometimes people say mean things about people who have little or no money.
But we know, the amount of money someone has– has nothing to do with how important they are.

We have good minds. We think well.
We have strong hearts. We love deeply.
We have powerful voices. We can use our words.

When someone says or does something that is hurtful or mean,
We can say: “No,” “Stop,” or “That’s not fair.”


We know: ALL people are important. ALL people belong. ALL people are equal.

Throughout sharing this speech, I had the privilege of  leading the crowd in three chants: “Black Lives Matter.” “I’m strong. I’m loud. I make my family proud.” “LOVE, not hate. THAT is what makes us great.” Thousands of protesters cheered in solidarity, reminding us that there are millions in agreement with valuing and protecting our shared humanity.

Thanks to Families for Peaceful Protest for orchestrating an entertaining and inspiring rally.

Photos below are of HFP students, parents, alumni, Love 4 Urban Art dancers and participants for “Blank Like A Girl” empowerment piece.
         Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, closeup and outdoor      



3 thoughts on “We Know Kindness, Inclusion & Love. HFP at the Women’s March on Portland.

  1. Julia Stead says:

    Well said, Mitra and Susan! I’m so thankful for the education my daughter received at HFP. And for the education I received, as well as I watched Teacher Susan bring the anti-bias curriculum to life in the classroom. It’s never too early to have meaningful conversations about inclusion, kindness and love with our children. It’s our job to raise children who support and advocate for ALL people. It’s our job to help them see when things are “unfair” and to think about what we can do to make it better, even if we don’t think it effects us. Kids can understand these ideas and put them to practice as they navigate their friendships at school and in their neighborhood, and as they grow older they will be primed to make a difference in the larger political world. Thanks for standing up, Susan!!

  2. Todd McIlhenny says:

    I am a proud parent of HFP alums. I am thrilled that my two children had the privilege to learn from Susan. They have become empathetic, authentic humans under her guidance. With her focus on love, empathy, and tolerance my children (now 13 and 15) have grown into caring, strong, self-confident young people.

    I sit here tonight watching 5 teens (best friends since they attended HFP together) in my home. They love each other and live values of kindness, acceptance, caring and equality. These kids are supposed to be difficult and surly. Yet they aren’t. They have played together, learned together, laughed and cried together, and eventually marched together. I can stand here and track their path back and know that HFP and Susan helped set a foundation that will carry on for generations. Generations that will make us proud as Americans and as humans.

    The words that Susan spoke to thousands are repeated every day to young people learning how to navigate our world. Adults don’t always listen, but kids, they listen. They live the values they learn. And they carry those values through a lifetime. Susan’s talk was a reminder of all that she taught my kids. It is a clear message that those values are critical in our current political climate. In short, Susan has helped to shape my family and our community.

    This weekend lawyers with the ACLU fought against a ban on refugees entering this country and got a victory. Those people are heroes. But they are no more heroes than Susan who shapes the future of this world and this country.

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