Civil Rights Commissioner: School Dismantling ‘Whiteness’ Is ‘Discriminatory’

U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow informed the principal of a Minnesota high school committed to a “vision of equity” that the school’s stated intention to dismantle “whiteness and other systems of privilege” amounts to a “discriminatory” and “race-obsessed viewpoint.”

“Describing whiteness as a form of privilege effaces the individuality of students, their families, and teachers,” Kirsanow wrote to Richfield High School (RHS) Principal Stacy Theien-Collins in a letter obtained by Breitbart News.

Kirsanow, an attorney and chair of the board of directors of the Center for New Black Leadership, asserted as one member of the commission:

Classifying individuals as privileged or disadvantaged based on their skin pigmentation perpetuates malign racial stereotypes and undermines the ability of RHS teachers to support the unique learning needs of each student. Such an approach implicitly suggests that “white” children who succeed should feel guilty as they have ostensibly received an illegitimate benefit as part of a racially rigged system. Conversely, students of color are immersed in the pernicious narrative that race is a significant or even primary limitation on their ability to succeed in school and, by extension, the wider society. Under this race-obsessed viewpoint, failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

As independent media outlet AlphaNews reported on October 8, Theien-Collins told the school board all meetings will begin with the school’s statement of its commitment to a “vision of equity.”

Theien-Collins stated this “vision of equity” is used “in all programs, all decisions, [and] all policies,” and is as follows:

At Richfield High School we believe in providing a rigorous and equitable education reflecting the strengths and experiences of our community. We believe students learn best when they feel safe and affirmed in who they are. Therefore, we commit to dismantling policies and processes that benefit whiteness and other systems of privilege.

“Your commitment to ‘dismantling policies and processes that benefit whiteness’ implicitly and erroneously assumes inequality of outcome as sufficient proof of an inequitable process,” Kirsanow wrote to Theien-Collins and added:

It begs the question: Should every system which produces unequal outcomes, as measured across some artificially defined racial categories, be dismantled? If so, I fear our entire sports entertainment complex, from the NBA to the NFL, is not long for this new world.

Kirsanow voiced concern about RHS’s use of the Innocent Classrooms program, which touts it is “on a mission to dismantle racial bias.”

Kirsanow Letter to Richfield High School 11.1.2021 by Breitbart News on Scribd

“As you know, Innocent Classrooms trains teachers to build relationships that liberate students of color ‘from the power of racial stereotypes in their schools and classrooms,’” he wrote. “While fostering healthy teacher-student relationships is undoubtedly a laudable goal, this educational strategy rests upon a faulty premise.”

Kirsanow observed Innocent Classrooms founder Alexs Pate described students of color as:

… being held in virtual bondage to the negative stereotypes that our culture has developed and perpetuated about them. These define our children as threatening, violent, criminal, poor, and academically disengaged and they are internalized by many children as guilt before they enter the school door… This script is the reason for the achievement gap and other disparities of the education system.

“[I]t would seem that this program has devised a new stereotype of its own,” Kirsanow observed. “[A]ny program that instructs teachers to view students of a certain race as held in ‘virtual bondage’ or ridden with ‘internalized …  guilt’ necessarily engenders a racially discriminatory environment.”

The commissioner said the program ultimately “encourages teachers to walk on eggshells, avoid difficult discussions, and treat certain students differently to compensate for perceived racial stereotypes.”

Kirsanow also noted to the RHS principal her school’s “vision of equity” may “very well run afoul of federal civil right law.”

He observed that, because RHS receives abundant federal funding, the school is “obligated to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” which states, “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

“Dismantling an otherwise neutral system just because too many people of a particular race succeed under that system is discriminatory,” the commissioner asserted. “Treating students differently because of supposed racial burdens is discriminatory. Labeling students as privileged or guilt-ridden because of their race is discriminatory.”

“[U]nder RHS’ ‘vision of equity,’ white faculty and students must confront the guilt of an educational system that is supposedly rigged in their favor while students of color are to be treated as a second coming of Christian from The Pilgrim’s Progress,” Kirsanow stated. “Both of these assumptions are sides of the same coin: Judging an individual based on the color of their skin rather than the content of the character.”

“Such a work environment, centered on racial judgmentalism and guilt, must necessarily violate Title VII,” he asserted.

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