A school district in British Columbia is facing criticism over an “anti-racism” campaign led by their Superintendent of Schools, Teresa Down.
In a series of posters, varying middle aged white women pose sternly next to a quote lamenting the benefits of “white privilege”.
“We were also very aware of some information we had from [students] in our school district around some of the racism and prejudice and bias that they were facing, both in their schools and also in the community.”
When the district approached its school principals about the campaign, every school chose to put up the posters.
Parents quickly began complaining, saying that hadn’t been notified about the campaign and weren’t sure how to talk to their children about the subtext of the posters.
Field Allen said part of her concern is having to explain what these posters mean to her two grandchildren, who both attend school in the district.
“You and I can talk as adults about these posters, but what do you say to a first-grader?,” she said.
Downs believes young students are entirely capable of learning about these societal issues.
“I think children have incredible capacity to observe and learn about the world around them,” she said.
B.C. Minister of Education Rob Fleming said B.C. students learn about discrimination and racism from an early age.
“Anti-racism has been a strong component in our curriculum in every school district in B.C. and should be,” he said.
“I think anything that furthers that discussion and understanding amongst our students is a good thing and that’s been part of the curriculum for some time now.”
The problem with this campaign is that if vilifies white students as young as six years old. It lays blame and the burden of “justice” at the feet of a child who can’t even tie his own shoes yet. There is an appropriate way to discuss bigotry (and maybe the very vague notion of “privilege”) with children that doesn’t involve making them solely responsible for the world’s ills based solely on their skin color. I recall another time in our region’s history when we did that – several times, in fact. That sentiment never bodes well for civilized society. We still see people blaming Jews for injustice in society (I’m look at you, Louis Farrakhan and all the Democrats who support you!) and nowhere has that led to more peace and understanding.
I’m not white so I don’t know what it’s like to have to explain all this to your white child. But I can’t imagine telling my own children that simply the way that they look makes them guilty of the sins of other people who look like them. We do not tolerate such nonsense when anyone tries to ascribe that idea to all Muslims or all black people. I’m not sure why we think it’s any better to do that to all white people.
This campaign also assumes the guilt of the white children. Children have a way of internalizing guilt and shame. Ask any divorced parent how much time they’ve had to spend reassuring their child that he/she is not responsible for mommy and daddy breaking up. It’s inevitable. It is human nature. Why does B.C.’s school superintendent – an educator dedicated to the success of children – think it is acceptable to make white children in 2018 responsible for societal sins that have developed over thousands of years?
This is grossly irresponsible and frankly, racist.
It is also pathetic and as a black woman, I am not inclined to “respect” white people who lead a conversation with “You’re better than me because of the color of your skin.”
How about an anti-racism campaign that stresses the importance of valuing every human being as worthy of respect?
Martin Luther King, Jr. must be rolling over in his grave.