A reader just sent me this email regarding teaching the Black Lives Matter curriculum from the Principal of his children’s high school: Shorecrest High School in Seattle, WA. This is from a weekly newsletter she sends to parents. (Some paragraphs were removed for the sake of brevity, but nothing that changes the context.)
“Dear Shorecrest Students and Families,
Over the past three weeks, as a school, we have engaged in conversations about the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 and its racist elements. We have listened to Lebron James’ authentic perspective on those events at the Capitol as well as on racial injustice in America more broadly. Last Friday we were fortunate to be able to engage in a thoughtful three-part lesson and dialogue created by our Black Student Union students and their advisors in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr. Our work in the area of racial justice as a school community does not end here. Both students and staff have submitted reflection forms indicating that they see the necessity in continuing the conversation and the work to move forward towards being a truly antiracist learning community. With our entire district, we also will participate in the Black Lives Matter at School Week the first week of February.
Over the past two weeks, the Shorecrest Race & Equity Team, composed of 10 staff members, has met five times to support this work, prepare our teachers to engage in this work, and to hear and meet the needs of our students – in particular our Indigenous, Black, and Brown students who have historically been marginalized in our educational structures. We are listening. We commit to action. We want to work tirelessly to advance antiracism at Shorecrest. We are no longer accepting the narrative of being “not racist”, but instead proactively and aggressively creating action to combat racism. Antiracism is defined by Ibram X. Kendi in “How to Be an Antiracist” as: expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and is supportive of policies that reduce racial inequity.
The following themes emerged from students via an optional Google reflection form following our MLK activities:
|We need a better system to respond to, report, and have accountability around racism in school|
|We need to structure ongoing and year-round conversation around racial justice|
|We need more diverse staff and teachers|
|Our curriculum should incorporate strong history, representation, and current contributions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color|
|Shorecrest needs to listen better to student needs and community voices, especially those in the Indigenous, Black, and Brown community|
|Resources need to be applied to supporting the work of racial justice and supporting our students of color|
|Our school events, activities, celebrations, etc. should elevate antiracism|
|We need to better support the development of our black and brown student leaders via support for strong affinity clubs and in other school wide student leadership roles.|
|We need to be more authentic and action orientated in our antiracism work|
|We should seek to partner with and mentor younger students|
|Restorative Justice practices should be built into our classes and used school wide|
These themes are a starting place for our Race & Equity Team and will inform the work we do moving forward.”
[This next section falls under the “Book recs for equity and understanding” section, just below the Principal’s letter.]
“I was embarrassed as an American and shocked as a former history teacher that the White House released “The 1776 Report” (link added by The Bubbler) on the most recent Martin Luther Day. The document is a series of misrepresentations, misinterpretations and even lies about slavery in the United States. There is so much we can learn about slavery and of African Americans in U.S. history that I recommend everyone read a book called Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Ibram Kendi and Jason Reynolds. It is a clear, concise, and cathartic telling of racism—particularly racism in the United States. I write that it is a “telling” because the narrative speaks directly to the reader as if you are listening in person to a powerful speaker who wants you to understand racism and to do something about it. The book is taught in our English 12 classes. Stamped is a remix of a more traditional history book called Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram Kendi. I read Stamped and when I wanted a more in depth understanding of a topic than I turned to Stamped from the Beginning. I recommend both, but in particular I recommend Stamped since it is aimed at informing and motivating young adults—our students.”
Conservatives often talk, in speculative terms, about indoctrination in our public schools. Here’s a real example. Consider this definition of the word “indoctrination” from Oxford Languages:
“the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.”
That’s exactly what’s going on here. Two weeks earlier, the Principal wrote this in her weekly newsletter, “Shorecrest strives to provide a space for our community of learners to reflect, to think critically, to ask questions, to listen, and to consider multiple perspectives. We will not shy away from difficult conversations.”
It appears attitudes have changed quite a bit in two weeks. Instead of presenting it as a point of view, Principal Gonzalez refers to the “racist elements” of the “insurrection at the Capitol on January 6” as an absolute we all take for granted.
The problem with that position is that while the Capitol takeover was a lot of things, “racist” wasn’t one of them. There was no racist element to it until President Biden, and others, suggested that if it had been black people at the Capitol, they would have been treated very differently.
We know this is true because while the rioters at the Capitol are being actively hunted down by the FBI, all of the rioters from this past Summer and Fall were allowed to kill, injure, destroy, and vandalize with little pushback. In fact, in some cases, police officers knelt or stood back to allow it.
The truth is, to make it a racial issue when known was previously present is, in itself, racist. What made those people think of black people, and why did people assume they would even do that?
The second sentence refers to students listening to LeBron James’ “authentic perspective” on the events at the Capitol. With all of the perspectives out there, why would they seek out LeBron James? What special qualifications does he have?
The Black Lives Matter at School Week is taken directly from the communist BLM movement. Among its 13 Guiding Principles is “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.” (Read: getting the influence of parents out of the way.)
Principal Gonzalez states, in no uncertain terms, that they are “no longer accepting the narrative of being “not racist.” They are embracing Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of “antiracism.” In other words, they are actively going to teach students that the country was founded on racism and that America, the greatest country in world history, is evil and must be actively redeemed (which, of course, isn’t even possible).
Moving to the librarian’s piece of the newsletter, I’m struck by the presentation of “The 1776 Report” as definitively a “series of misrepresentations, misinterpretations and even lies about slavery in the United States.” Naturally, she cites no examples or evidence. There’s a pretty solid chance the librarian didn’t actually read it.
If Principal Gonzalez is sincere in her commitment to creating an atmosphere for students to ask questions and think critically, then her next newsletter would feature books like “White Guilt,” by Shelby Steele, or “Blackout,” by Candace Owens (to name a few).
At a higher level, how about teaching the kids math, science, and writing. Those seem like they should be priorities. If they don’t have those foundations, they’ll never be able to function in society, anyway.
Conservatives have sat on the sidelines as leftists have actively taken over our country’s learning curriculum. This is a chance for us to flex our muscles and write to Principal Gonzalez with productive thoughts, opinions, and recommendations about how to enhance or counter the current narrative they are using to indoctrinate her students.
It’s going to be a long four years, so this is a good opportunity to get in activist shape. Interested to see how far we can take this one. Hopefully, it can serve as an example to Principals around the country.