NY school asks parents to reflect on their 'whiteness' in survey, Internet says 'White people getting spooked'

The principal of the school, identified as Mark Federman, distributed it among every parent 'as part of a series of materials meant for reflection' and as 'food for thought'


                            NY school asks parents to reflect on their 'whiteness' in survey, Internet says 'White people getting spooked'
The document was shared with the school by parents as part of ongoing anti-racist work in the school community, said a spokesperson (Getty Images)

A school principal’s action has attracted a lot of attention after he reportedly shared pamphlets with parents that asked them to “reflect” on their “whiteness”. According to reports, the material titled "The 8 White Identities", was created by Barnor Hesse, an associate professor of African-American studies at Northwestern University, and was given to parents of students at East Side Community School in Manhattan.

"There is a regime of whiteness, and there are action-oriented white identities. People who identify with whiteness are one of these. It's about time we build an ethnography of whiteness, since white people have been the ones writing about and governing others,” Hesse wrote in the pamphlet, which included a color-coordinated meter with the red zone on the left titled “White Supremacist’’ and the green zone on the far right labeled “White Abolitionist”.

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The New York Post quoted a New York City Department of Education official saying that the material was initially given by some parents to the teaching staff at the school, which serves sixth through 12th-graders. Later, the principal of the school, identified as Mark Federman, distributed it among every parent “as part of a series of materials meant for reflection” and as “food for thought”, the official added.

A spokesperson of the New York City Department of Education said, “Anti-racism and the celebration of diversity is at the core of our work on behalf of the young people of New York City, and the East Side Community School’s students, parents and staff partner together to advance equity in their community. The document in question was shared with the school by parents as a part of ongoing anti-racist work in the school community and is one of many resources the schools utilizes.”

The representative added, “Our staff are now being targeted with vile racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs and degrading language from people outside of their school and nothing justifies the abuse directed at our educators.”

Several people also took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the incident. One user wrote, “SCOOP: The principal of East Side Community School in New York sent white parents this ‘tool for action’ which tells them they must become ‘white traitors’ and then advocate for full ‘white abolition’. This is the new language of public education.”

Another said, “What is the end goal here? To get white people to stop calling themselves white?’ I'm pretty sure they'd just get attacked by these same people for ‘denying their privilege’ if they did that.” A user added, “'Dismantling whiteness, and not allowing whiteness to reassert itself' Applied to any other group, this would sound like a monstrous euphemism for mass extermination & cultural annihilation.”



 

 



 

 



 

 



 

“Are they going to do this to Asians next once the whites are out of the way and the second most successful race takes reigns?” another asked while a user suggested, “The best thing is for parents to ignore this and pretend it was never received. No energy should be expended on it.”

However, there were few who supported the pamphlet with a user tweeting, “Why are we surprised by this? It's backlash; an inevitable response to 240+ years of slavery & 100+ years of inequality. We are only 57 years removed from Civil Rights Act. That generation is still alive. White people getting spooked.”

A user said, “This all comes from inequalities we know exist in society, but we're blaming each other for racism when it's always been an issue of class. Just my opinion as someone from across the pond.”



 

 



 

 



 

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