The Battle to Keep ‘White Fragility’ Out of Okaloosa County Schools

by Christopher Paslay

The debate over the use of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility in a high school English classroom is heating up in the Okaloosa County School District. 

As Reported in the Northwest Florida Daily News:

A book called “White Fragility” has been removed from the reading list at Choctawhatchee High School at the direction of the Okaloosa County School District.

The book, whose full title reads “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism,” was not included on this year’s approved reading list for the Choctaw English Department, a statement from the School District said.

“More importantly, the Florida Department of Education has established standards for each course in the public-school setting that define what students should be taught in that course,” the statement said. “It is not apparent that this material aligned with the standards for the course.”

The book’s removal, which was prompted by a complaint from a parent, quickly sparked a response from social justice advocates. The Niceville chapter of Black Lives Matter soon got involved, and launched a petition to keep the book in the high school which has now received over 1,300 signatures.

As Jennie McKeon reported for WUWF:

According to the change.org petition, an English teacher at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach was planning a lesson on racism — past and present — using excerpts from the 2018 book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, a white academic with experience in diversity training. 

When a parent made a complaint, the Okaloosa County School District backed the parent. 

However, when Niceville parent Misti Schneidewind heard about the incident, she contacted her daughter, Hannah, who started the petition Wednesday. 

When she was home from Northeastern University during the summer, Hannah was part of the students that helped facilitate four Black Lives Matter billboards around the city. Hannah said the petition may not do much but raise awareness, but that’s OK with her.

“Many people in our community are so uncomfortable with this topic,” said Hannah. “But it’s not just something you can shut down and ignore.”

But those familiar with the book White Fragility know it’s more than simply a conversation about race, diversity, or multiculturalism; White Fragility is a polarizing and divisive book, which teaches that all whites are racist by default, suffer from white supremacy and anti-blackness, and labels all who challenge or disagree with this dogma as “fragile.” It is all about indoctrination through identity politics, and provides no real means for discussion, collaboration, or critical thinking. 

The Okaloosa County School Board agreed to read the book for themselves, and ruled that the book would be granted the opportunity to be considered as part of their English curriculum, as long as the proper procedure was followed.   

To watch further commentary on the topic, and to see excerpts of the official Okaloosa County School Board meeting, please click here.

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