by Christopher Paslay
A breakdown of major terms, and red flags for concerned parents.
After the racial unrest over the death of George Floyd last summer, chances are your child’s school has adopted some form of “anti-racist” curriculum, aimed at ending racism and racial injustice. Also called “diversity,” “equity,” or “inclusion,” these programs sound reasonable and well-meaning, and some of them are. However, there is a sliding scale between reasonable and radical, and every school district approaches things differently.
Anti-racism is not a one-size fits all movement. The devil is in the details, and how one school implements such a program may differ greatly from district to district, and county to county.
This article (and the video above) provides practical suggestions for keeping an eye on your school district’s “anti-racism” curriculum, and provides laymen’s definitions of terms, along with red flags to look for within the curriculum itself. As a rule, parents should keep an eye on their child’s curriculum at two levels: the district level, which includes official school board resolutions and school district approved material; and the classroom level: the actual lessons and activities that your child is doing with his or her teachers and classmates.
In A Nutshell: The Terms of Anti-Racism
(Note: These definitions are not sponsored by any one school or district.)
Anti-Racism: Anti-racism is concerned with systems over individuals. Anti-racist educators, such as Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi, believe all racial disparities in the United States are the sole result of one thing: racism. Racist systems and policies, both conscious and unconscious, are perpetuated by privileged whites, who benefit from this knowingly and unknowingly. Anti-racists attempt to end such systems by calling out, confronting, and disrupting white privilege and so-called “white supremacy culture.”
White Supremacy: White supremacy does not refer to individual white people per se and their individual intentions, but to a political-economic social system of domination. This system is based on the historical and current accumulation of structural power that privileges, centralizes, and elevates white people as a group. The anti-racist definition of white supremacy is not hatred or white nationalism, but simply the fact that whites in America are the dominant culture.
White Privilege: The collective power, both conscious and unconscious, that whites have in society which makes things easier for them, and more difficult for people of color.
Racism: Racism is more than race prejudice. Anyone across any race can have race prejudice. But racism is a macro-level social system that whites control and use to the advantage of whites as a group. Thus all whites are collectively racist.
Equity: Equity is not about equal opportunity — but about equal outcome. It’s not concerned with a level playing field, but with level scores and level results. Under an anti-racist framework, equity is zero-sum: one group must be disrupted or dismantled for another group to make gains.
Anti-Blackness: This is a white person’s inherent hatred or marginalization of people of color. Anti-racist educators teach that all whites have inherent anti-blackness, whether conscious or unconscious.
Critical Race Theory: Critical Race Theory, in a nutshell, encompasses all of the above ideas: that systems must change for racial progress to be made; that white supremacy, white privilege, and anti-blackness must be disrupted; and that those who do not get on board are perpetuating racism and inequity by default.
Red Flags For Concerned Parents
Parents should approach with caution curriculum that includes one or more of the following:
Any material related to Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Anti-Racist) or Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility). These books are extremely polarizing, agenda-driven, and divide people into identity groups — judging them by the color of their skin, and not the content of their character, and have no place in K-12 schools. These books violate federal anti-discrimination laws, and should be met with extreme caution.
Any activity, lesson, or material that uses the phrase “white privilege,” “white fragility,” or “white supremacy.” These materials polarize and judge students by race, and may violate federal anti-discrimination laws.
Any activity, lesson, or material that uses the phrase “anti-blackness,” or encourages a student to admit to or acknowledge their anti-blackness.
Any curriculum that focuses too heavily on identity, or has children dissect or analyze their identity, or complete an identity map or identity wheel.
Any curriculum that targets “whiteness,” or asks students to disrupt or deconstruct “whiteness,” “white privilege,” or “white supremacy.” Such material is in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.
Any lesson or activity that is too heavily focused on race or identity, or that divides or polarizes students by race — splitting students into so-called “affinity groups.”
Finally, any use, mention, or inclusion of Black Lives Matter curriculum, which is extremely agenda-driven, polarizing, and based in politics. A good way to object to this is by exposing it as political indoctrination — the kind of political indoctrination parents oppose and most school boards deny exists. BLM is a political organization with a PAC, and their agenda (defunding police, disrupting the nuclear family structure, etc.) has no place in any school that claims to teach students how to think, and not what to think. The National Education Association recently adopted BLM curriculum, a decision that must be rectified and reversed; most school districts prohibit any form of politicking or political campaigning in the classroom, and BLM is indeed a political organization with a PAC.
The first step for concerned parents is getting educated about what is going on in your child’s school. If you have a concern, make your voice heard.