Sources of Concern

The following list is a sample of the growing number of books, websites, articles, and organizations that are having a concerning effect on America’s schools. They state or otherwise imply that “Whiteness” is problematic and oppressive, and must be disrupted, de-centered, or dismantled. In addition, they may use the divisive phrases “white supremacy culture,” “white privilege,” or “white fragility,” terms that are misguided and counterproductive to diversity, equity, and equality in America’s schools.

Educators should adhere to the mainstream definition of “Whiteness.” The zero-sum fallacy of “Whiteness” does little to empower people of color, and is based in resistance and disruption, rather than cooperation and collaboration.

This website uses a litmus test to see if a certain book, website, article, or organization fits its “Sources of Concern.” This litmus test asks the following two questions: 1. Can this book, website, article, or organization be used with children in K-12 schools? 2. Are its concepts appropriate and welcoming to all children, including white students? And while some of the books, websites, articles, and organizations listed here are not intended for K-12 classrooms – but for the use of training preservice teachers at the university level – such material is inappropriate by default; ultimately, these dualistic concepts, based in identity politics, trickle down into the K-12 classroom and affect all of our children.

Examples of Concerning Books

What Does It Mean To Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy, by Robin DiAngelo. The kind of “racial literacy” called for in this book has very little to do with learning to better communicate and interact with people of all races and ethnic backgrounds, or how to come together to find solutions to inequality. Here, developing white racial literacy means learning to dismantle “Whiteness,” which, according to DiAngelo, is inherently racist and oppressive. The book teaches all whites benefit from white privilege, and perpetuate racism by default. Whites can only become “racially literate” when they agree to participate in zero-sum approaches that use identity politics to divide whites and people of color into dualistic camps to bring change – such as white oppressors/non-white oppressed – all of which are unwelcoming to those who identify as white.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo. Based on the concepts developed in What Does It Mean To Be White?White Fragility preaches Whiteness is privileged and inherently racist, but highlights a new concept to meet the objection of any white person who disagrees with any of DiAngelo’s ideologies: that such a person suffers from “white fragility,” which is where “the smallest amount of racial stress is intolerable” and where “the mere suggestion that being white has meaning often triggers a range of defense responses.” According to DiAngelo, these responses “work to reinstate white equilibrium as they repel the challenge, return our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy.”

Educated in Whiteness: Good Intentions and Diversity in Schools, by Angelina E. Castagno. Viewing Whiteness as a major cause of inequality, this book proposes “educating against whiteness,” and argues that the “sameness” or unity at the heart of multicultural education helps keep inequality in place. It states on its book jacket, “Although in theory most diversity-related educational policies and practices are intended to bring about greater equity, too often in practice actually maintain and perpetuate whiteness.” This book bolsters the fallacy of “Whiteness” as a systemic, non-individual entity with its own existence, despite the fact the term “Whiteness” directly refers to the cultures, behaviors, and attitudes of those who identify as “white.” As such, the book is anti-white, and does not welcome Whiteness.

The Price of Nice: How Good Intentions Maintain Educational Inequity, by Angelina E. Castagno. This book highlights research and anecdotal observations that view “Whiteness” as problematic, and employs the zero-sum philosophy that the advancement of people of color depends on the disruption, dismantling, and de-centering of Whiteness. It maintains the fallacy of “Whiteness,” and teaches that “Niceness” keeps Whiteness in place. In essence, it calls on educators to use race and racism to confront Whiteness head on, bringing the divisiveness of identity politics and anti-Whiteness into American classrooms.

Examples of Concerning Websites and Journals

Disrupt Texts. This website calls on English teachers to “disrupt texts” by dumping lesson plans based on universal themes in literature, and adopting activities that racialize classic novels and teach students to view such texts through the lens of racism and white oppression. In a blog article on the International Literacy Association website titled, “Disrupting Your Texts: Why Simply Including Diverse Voices Is Not Enough,” high school English teacher and Disrupt Texts member Tricia Ebarvia asks literature teachers to “resist colorblind readings of texts,” to “consider the role that race and whiteness have played in your own socialization, particularly around your beliefs about schooling,” and to “begin with the premise that public schools never intended to educate all children equally and look for the ways in which this holds true today,” among other approaches.  She states that “curriculum has never been neutral, but always ideological,” and ironically, her remedy isn’t to eliminate political ideology by focusing on concrete skills and universal themes that unify the races and open access to resources, but by injecting more political ideology into the lesson, ideology rooted in zero-sum identity politics that is not welcoming to Whiteness.

Whiteness and Education. This is an academic journal which calls for the disruption and dismantling of “Whiteness.” It also promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and uses the unwelcoming and misguided terms “white privilege” and “white supremacy culture” throughout its articles. According to its aims & scope, the journal focuses on understanding “the construction and deployment of Whiteness in educational contexts,” which includes “critical discussions of White racism, White identity, privilege, power and intersectionality.” A recent article was titled, “Teaching to deconstruct whiteness in higher education.” In the abstract, the author stated, “As a white assistant professor of mostly white graduate students who will become higher education leaders, I work to dismantle whiteness in my curriculum, assignments and pedagogy.”

Examples of Concerning Articles

What Happened When My School Started to Dismantle White Supremacy CultureEducation Week. This article promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and uses the unwelcoming and misguided term “white supremacy culture.” The opening paragraph of the article states, “White Supremacy Culture. White Supremacy Culture. White Supremacy Culture. Now that the shock of reading these words has worn off, let’s explore what it is and why we need to dedicate more time to exploring its dehumanizing effect in our schools.”

Teacher Education Needs to Acknowledge ‘Whiteness’, Education Week. This article promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its dismantling.

Change the Conversation: What Educators Need to Be Talking AboutEducation Week. This article promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its dismantling. It advocates the zero-sum approach of antiracism, arguing the advancement of one group depends on the disruption of another. The articles states, “By ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.”

‘Mr. Turner, Are You Racist?’ A White Teacher Grapples With His Privilege, Education Week. This article promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its dismantling. It also employs the unwelcoming and zero-sum concept of “white privilege,” which dictates the advancement of one group depends on the disruption of another. The articles begins, “Before the 2018-19 school year, I would have told you that I was an ‘enlightened’ white educator, conscious of the privilege I hold in the classroom, sensitive to my students of color, and seasoned in addressing issues of race, identity, and power.

White People Must Save Themselves from Whiteness, by Venita Blackburn, The Paris Review. This article promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its dismantling. It also employs the unwelcoming and zero-sum concept of “white privilege,” which dictates the advancement of one group depends on the disruption of another. Blackburn writes, “Toni Morrison is often quoted as saying, ‘If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, you have a serious problem,’ but the rest is too often lobbed off. She continues saying, ‘White people have a very, very serious problem, and they should start thinking about what they can do about it.’ Anyone who has met Morrison can probably confirm that she means what she says the way she says it. Yet, the jagged pills of injustice get reduced to comfortable aphorisms and tokenism, and white adjacency becomes more and more tempting. Even people of color can cozy up to whiteness in the softer perimeters, where lip service is given to appease tender hearts that seek no harm (or seek to remain invisible). The perimeters need to Harden.

The Work of Examining and Disrupting Whiteness and Privilege Is Unambiguously UrgentNational Council of English Teachers (NCTE). This article promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its dismantling. It also employs the unwelcoming and zero-sum concept of “white privilege,” which dictates the advancement of one group depends on the disruption of another. Further, the article advocates the “critical work of whiteness,” which promotes dualistic identity politics over principle-based values.

Examples of Concerning Organizations

Deconstructing Whiteness, an ethnic studies course at DeCal. The DeCal Program is an aggregate of student-run courses at the University of California, Berkeley, where students create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of subjects, many of which are not addressed in the traditional curriculum. This organization promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its deconstruction. It also employs the unwelcoming and zero-sum concept of “white privilege,” which dictates the advancement of one group depends on the disruption of another. The Deconstructing Whiteness course information states, “Deconstructing Whiteness aims to confront conversations about privilege and positionality to understand where white bodies have the responsibility to be in movements against white supremacy and in solidarity with marginalized peoples and groups of color. This class will not be to coddle white fragility, but to deconstruct and relearn whiteness through case studies, speakers, and critical readings.

The White Privilege Conference. This organization promotes the fallacy of “Whiteness” as an independent entity, and calls for its deconstruction. It also employs the unwelcoming and zero-sum concept of “white privilege,” which dictates the advancement of one group depends on the disruption of another. According to its website, “For the past 20 years the WPC has examined challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solution and team building strategies to work towards a more equitable world. WPC is a conference designed to examine issues of privilege beyond skin color. WPC is open to everyone and invites diverse perspectives to provide a comprehensive look at issues of privilege including: race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, etc.” WPC’s 2017 conference in Kansas City, Missouri, was titled, “Organizing. Strategizing. Taking-Action. Deconstructing the Culture of White Supremacy and Privilege: Creating Peace, Equity and Opportunity in the Heartland.”