‘Interrupting Whiteness’: National Education Conference to Blame White Teachers and Students for School Woes
A major national conference for teachers and school administrators starting on Saturday, October 10, in Baltimore will focus exclusively on race and racism, featuring workshops on “interrupting whiteness” in American schools, the “dominance of White supremacy” in society, “White privilege” enjoyed by Caucasian students, “white domination of thought,” and how to “decenter whiteness.”
The conference, officially titled The National Summit for Courageous Conversation 2015, is organized by thePacific Educational Group (PEG), a large and influential consulting firm hired by hundreds of school districts nationwide — often under pressure from the federal government — to address “racial gaps” in scholastic performance and behavior problems in the classroom.
Below are excerpts taken from the official program of the upcoming National Summit for Courageous Conversation 2015, as well as examples taken from earlier Summits in 2014 and 2011, accompanied by direct screenshots of the text as it appears in the programs. You can confirm this by viewing the official 2015 program itself as uploaded by Pacific Educational Group, as well as pdfs of the 2014 Summit program and the 2011 program still archived at the Summit’s own Web site.
This first example is a prototypical workshop at the National Summit for Courageous Conversation; is this the kind of race-obsessed confrontational philosophy that should be guiding instruction and curricula in the nation’s public schools?
White Privilege, White Responsibility: Deepening Our Commitment as White Allies in the Struggle for Racial Equity in Schools
To achieve racial equity in schools, all educators must be able to identify and communicate where their own personal whiteness plays out in classroom, school, and community systems. Deepen your ability to focus a critical lens on your own whiteness and privilege and see how they impact your life. Through the tenets of Critical Race Theory, analyze how society constructs whiteness as the dominant norm in the U.S. Explore what it means to be a white educator leading for racial equity without perpetuating a system of white dominance.
The program descriptions, as you can see, are composed almost entirely of academic jargon which intentionally obfuscates the text’s meaning. I’ve added occasional clarifications between excerpts, deconstructing the jargon into plain language — though in most cases the true nature of each workshop shines through the euphemistic terminology on its own, and needs no illumination.
Groups such as PEG which offer their services to school districts usually portray their programs as simply a way to boost the self-image of black students, to hopefully improve their academic scores and lessen disruptive behavior. And if PEG had kept its goal to nothing more than that, then there would likely not be any controversy. But, as this next workshop reveals, PEG has crossed way, way over the line from boosting the esteem of black students to instead intentionally tearing down the esteem of white students:
It Ain’t H1N1, But It’s Just as Deadly: The Negative Effects of White Privilege for People of Color
Explore the realities of white privilege and the deep wounds that many people of color have felt due to this ugly reality. Hear historical perspectives and learn how the evolution of white privilege has been parented by white supremacy, racism, and institutional racism from the past to the present. Take a different look at white privilege and consider how many people of color have been conditioned to believe that they shouldn’t be afforded the privilege that white folks receive, which gives white privilege the power to positively affect many white people and negatively affect all people. Engage in this challenging opportunity to examine yourself critically and to look at the effects that white privilege has had on society and communities of color.
This next workshop, from the upcoming 2015 Summit, describes a process to brainwash ten-year-old white girls away from their instinctively colorblind attitude that all people are equal, regardless of skin color, and to dismantle their unacceptable “rigid sense of fairness,” and replace it with a hyper-conscious awareness of both the existence of race and the difference between races and, as the final step, to internalize in the girls a self-loathing of their own “whiteness” — which is the last of the program’s “Six Conditions” and the goal of every “conversation about race.” Conference attendees will learn how to implement these indoctrination protocols in their own schools around the country:
From a Place of Privilege – Diversity to Equity: How One NYC Private School is Working to Establish Curriculum for Ongoing Racial Identity Development in Grades 5-8
Can ten-year-old White girls talk about race? Yes, with practice. Middle School aged children are rigid in their sense of fairness and resistant to the acknowledgement of difference. We use a curriculum built around the Courageous Conversation Protocol that supports the development of our students’ capacity to talk about race. Examine a spiraling 5-8 curriculum that uses the Six Conditions to engage, sustain and deepen conversations about race among students. Experience activities that help facilitate racial identity development. Analyze the program and its evolution in order to develop your own strategies to create similar curriculum in your school.
Pacific Educational Group did not dream up this race-centric approach all on its own. Its practices are based on an academic discipline called “Critical Race Theory,” which is so commonplace in modern academia as to no longer even be controversial. But outside a university environment, few people have even heard of it — and the few that have are usually shocked and outraged. The phrase “Critical Race Theory,” for all its multi-syllabic high-mindedness, is nothing more than a faux-intellectual way of saying “Everything — and we mean everything — is white people’s fault.”
Much of Critical Race Theory revolves around the concept of “whiteness,” which is not simply a skin color or racial identification but rather a state of moral turpitude: To have “whiteness” means that you personally share blame for all of society’s ills. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think prejudiced thoughts or treat anyone badly; it doesn’t matter whether or not your ancestors owned slaves or instead were abolitionists fighting to free slaves; it doesn’t matter whether or not your ancestors immigrated to the United Sates in the 20th century long after slavery was outlawed; it doesn’t matter whether you’re left-wing or right-wing or apolitical; what matters is that all of American society is inherently racist and favors white people, so that if you “look white,” you benefit from a racist system, and you are therefore part of that system, and therefore racist, and therefore (to peel away the euphemisms) evil. All “Caucasian” or pale-skinned people are genetically cursed with “whiteness,” which they cannot escape or disown, but people of other skin colors and ethnicities can also possess whiteness if they conform to “white norms” and refuse to embrace anti-whiteness activism.
The average person might see this entire worldview as shockingly racist, but Critical Race Theory has that angle covered too: Racism, according to the theory, is prejudice+power; and since (according to the theory) black people have no power in society, by definition they can’t be racist. The inverse of the stigma of whiteness is therefore also true: if you lack whiteness, you are immune from criticism or condemnation.
Until recently Critical Race Theory has been just that — a “theory” safely quarantined away from the real world in the pages of scholarly journals and the hallways of Ethnic Studies departments. But Pacific Educational Group is transforming Critical Race Theory into Critical Race Practice. They’re implementing in real-world settings (K-12 classrooms) the notions that until now were discussed only hypothetically:
Creating Culturally Relevant Classrooms by Removing the Sand and Interrupting Whiteness
Join members of the CARE team from Portland DART School and share their journey to establish Culturally Relevant Classrooms using the Courageous Conversation protocol as a tool for interrupting white-normed ways of teaching and learning. Hear how DART has created classroom climates where dialogue opens doors to multiple perspectives, increases awareness of racial norms, decenters whiteness, empowers students to question, and improves engagement of all students. Participate in personal reflection, small and large group discussions, and a fun game of Courageous Conversation Vocabulary BINGO! Take home resources and examples of outcomes.
Any white person who refuses to accept the label “racist” and who refuses to shoulder the blame for all of society’s woes is engaging in “White Denial” and suffers from “dysconsciousness” that needs to be uprooted if that person wants to be allowed to teach children:
The Very Minds of the People We Are Trying to Save: The Pathology of White Denial and The Pedagogy of Critical Race Theory for White Educators
Professional development about race that fails to interrogate adaptive problems contributes to the devastating impact of institutional racism in schools. Learn to utilize the 1st and 6th Conditions to reveal the impact of white denial and white dialogic domination in interracial dialogue about racism. Analyze concepts of critical race theory to move from dysconsciousness to critical race consciousness, and see how it manifests in school culture, policies, and practices. Discover the adaptive solution needed to create transformative professional development programs about race.
As revealed in the description of this upcoming 2015 workshop, “Equity Coaching” is a euphemism for psychologically “breaking” white teachers so that they not only confess their own inescapable racism but they then also bring to their students the attitude that whites as a group are morally culpable:
Would You Like to Unpack That? Equity Coaching as a Means to Interrupt Systemic Racism and Improve Instructional Practice
Systemic racial equity change transpires when educators are given the space and support to critically reflect on their own racial consciousness and practice. Equity coaching provides sustained dialogue in a trusting environment to interrupt the presence of racism and whiteness. Using Courageous Conversation Protocol, tenets of Critical Race Theory, and instructional coaching methods, educators and coaches engage in a non-evaluative reflection aimed at transforming teacher practice.
Is it your fault? Of course it’s your fault. Own the guilt. Accept your villainy:
Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud! An Unapologetic Infusion of Afrocentrism in Classroom Instruction
The current paradigm of classroom instruction has the potential to render our Black students invisible without explicit examination of the structural and cultural forces that reify racial inequities. Learn how Eurocentric classroom patterns impact racial identify development and learning for students of color. Explore the meaning and importance of Afrocentric instruction, and discover the benefits for students, teachers, and the school community. Leave with strategies for designing Afrocentric lessons and decentering whiteness in your classroom.
Proponents of Critical Race Theory have sealed every possible exit for anyone trying to escape the guilt of “whiteness”; this workshop is aimed at teachers trying to wriggle out of the hot seat by claiming they’re not part of this imaginary “white race” anyway:
I’m White? I’m White: Increasing White Racial Consciousness To Expand White Racial Consciousness
How do you examine your personal racial consciousness as a White person engaging in racial equity work? How do you support White people in schools that require racial consciousness? Engage with the Courageous Conversation protocol and the work of Dr. Janet E. Helms to understand a model of White Racial Identity Development. Personally apply the model in individual consciousness work and share your insights. Examine the intersections of the model and the Six Conditions in order to increase White racial consciousness in your school and/or district.
And it’s not just teachers and administrators who need to have their whiteness interrupted — even the janitors and cafeteria workers should check their white privilege and share some of the blame for creating the racist environment on campus:
Climate Change – From Theory to Practice: Saint Paul Public Schools’ Operations Division’s Journey to Interrupt Systemic Racism
Explore the presence and role of Whiteness in district operations that support educational systems. Learn how to impact changes in district climate and procedures through applying the Courageous Conversation protocol. Deepen your understanding of the role that “non-classroom-based” personnel play in creating an equitable climate of learning for students. Hear how Saint Paul Public Schools is taking on the challenge to develop a racial equity lens for operational services.
One of the worst sins a teacher can commit is “colorblindness” — treating all children equally and paying no attention to race. This workshop led by an “Afro-Rican” student who lectures attendees that colorblindness is racist too since it fails to actively disrupt “white cultural norms”:
Voices from the Classroom: An Afro-Rican High School Student’s Perspective on Race, Colorblindness, and Education
When teachers claim to be “colorblind” it gives them an excuse not to try and understand different racial experiences, it also takes away a big part of their students of color identity. In this session, participants will have an opportunity to hear the narrative of a student of color. She will share examples of what she had to give up of herself on a daily basis to succeed according to white cultural norms, share suggestions to support students and open up the dialogue to give teachers an opportunity to ask questions and explore their own assumptions and beliefs.
Tonicia Abdur-Salaam, Equity Transformation Specialist; Pacific Educational Group, San Francisco CA; Makkah Abdur-Salaam, Student
One of PEG’s areas of focus is “Restorative Justice,” a catch-all term for eliminating standard punishments (such as detention and suspension) for disruptive or violent misbehavior at school, and replacing them with what are essentially therapy and counseling sessions for the offending students.
Many of the school districts that hire Pacific Educational Group do so only after being pressured by the U.S. Department of Education or sued by the U.S. Department of Justice to address “disparities” in the punishment rates of black students as compared to white students. The White House is now using the coercive power of government to force districts to accept PEG’s view that differing rates of school discipline for different ethnic groups are entirely due to racism on the part of teachers and administrators.
This new approach is called “decentering whiteness” in this highly euphemized workshop description:
Accelerate the Achievement of Students of Color by Decentering Whiteness in School Discipline
Students of color demonstrate accelerated achievement when they are welcomed into a culturally responsive school environment that prioritizes their presence, engagement, and learning. Explore and practice preventative/interventional measures that address student behaviors before they result in out of school time. Build on your school’s collective understanding of community, accountability, and discipline as a learning opportunity, in this highly interactive session. Leave with a perspective on an inclusive approach to school discipline and how this approach can accelerate the learning of students of color.
“Re-education” is a term used in communist societies for compelling people into confessing their guilt and then accepting new ideologies. This workshop concedes that for white people, attending the Summit session is a type of “re-education”:
Detour Spotting for White Racial Equity Leaders
For White people in schools, learning to become a racial equity leader is a re-education process. Understand how we take detours as we work to become racially literate and engage in race talk. Examine the common detours and learn how interrupting them will strengthen our ability to be courageous racial equity leaders who will tackle inequities as we see them and serve all students.