White Indiana student born in abusive home asks how can she have ‘white privilege’ in viral video
As the nationwide conversation on critical race theory continues, a White Indiana student has spoken up against the idea of “White privilege” in a viral video clip. Republican lawmakers across the board have asserted that critical race theory is un-American and racist. Arguing that it will further divide the country, they have pushed harder and harder to make it illegal in classrooms.
Critical race theory is an intellectual movement and it studies racism at the systemic level, examining how policies, laws, and court decisions can perpetuate racism even if they are seemingly race-neutral. In popular usage now, however, that meaning is more or less lost. For those against it, the term now refers to a miscellany of race-related curriculums, claims and anecdotes.
In the viral clip, the White student, whose name has not been mentioned, asked: “How can a child born in an abusive drug and alcohol abuse home who lost her entire biological family, that has experienced all forms of abuse, be privileged?”
The clip was shared by a Twitter user who said, “Something amazing happened at our local School Board meeting last night. This brave little girl described her own experience in a school that has abandoned traditional academics for social-emotional learning. This is an Indianapolis suburb. We thought it wouldn’t come here.” The video, at the time of writing this report, had 2,349 retweets, 540 quote tweets, and 5,914 likes. It has been viewed in excess of 330,000 times.
Something amazing happened at our local School Board meeting last night.— theREALbenORR™️ (@theREALbenORR) June 24, 2021
This brave little girl described her own experience in a school that has abandoned traditional academics for social emotional learning.
This is an Indianapolis suburb.
We thought it wouldn’t come here. pic.twitter.com/YoaVxZlpGJ
In what appears to be a farewell speech, the apparently emotional student said, “I have been in counseling as long as I can remember because I was adopted from foster care at age four. The things I have learned along the way are being challenged now when my science or math teacher is trying to teach me how to be, emotionally. And why are they teaching me about sexuality and how to identify?”
She continued, “I don’t want to hear about sexuality during class in front of other students, because that should be a private thing. This should be left in the homes and between students and counselors in one-on-one conversations. This has been a very traumatic part of my past, and the more the school focuses on sexuality, the more it affects me and my anxiety. It leaves confusion and frustration in my mind, and I don’t know how to deal with that because they only focus on more content that I feel hurt about.”
Following that, she said, “I was told that I have white privilege. How can a child born in an abusive drug and alcohol abuse home who lost her entire biological family, that has experienced all forms of abuse, be privileged? If you found a child at 15 months in a home with holes in the floor eating cat poop, would you consider them privileged? Just asking, because when I was told that, I was upset and cried myself to sleep.”
“We have to stop the stereotypes and bitterness towards groups because it gets us nowhere but divided,” she said. They are trying to divide us into two groups instead of bringing us together as one. Every day I felt less and less valued as a student and failed every class this past year. Academics are not important here — only how we feel and making sure that we learn about sexuality, political topics and emotional topics that teachers may or may not be able to handle, especially with trauma children like myself.”
She concluded her speech with: “I’m happy to move on and begin a fresh start and hope that this next school will love me for me and challenge me to grow in areas that I’m good at. I just want people to love one another, and the way we’re doing that is wrong.”
Her adoptive parents tweeted about the speech, identifying the student as their daughter. “This is my daughter and you are exactly right,” Tina Akers wrote, responding to a tweet from PragerU, an American far-right media company. “She shouldn’t have to tell the schools how they have failed children by dividing them. She shouldn’t have to tell them how they are damaging them by adding more anxiety and guilt for reasons unknown!”
As per her Twitter account, she is a resident of Fishers, a city in Hamilton County, Indiana. The student’s adoptive father Shane Akers also tweeted, “This was hard as a dad to see my child go through and to be vulnerable to allow her to get in front of this people. I’m so proud of her courage to step out!”
This is my daughter and you are exactly right! She shouldn’t have to tell the schools how they have failed children by dividing them. She shouldn’t have to tell them how they are damaging them by adding more anxiety and guilt for reasons unknown!— Tina Akers (@TinaAkers1) June 24, 2021
This was hard as a dad to see my child go through and to be vulnerable to allow her to get in front of this people. I’m so proud of her courage to step out! https://t.co/rJBFYtz7nJ— Shane Akers (@sakers51) June 25, 2021
The Indy Star reported that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on June 23 released a Parents Bill of Rights encouraging parent participation with a document that aims to be a resource for civic dialogue and outlines how parents and caregivers can “exercise their legal right to have a voice in their children’s education.”
Rokita, who has decried critical race theory, addressed conservative talking points around teaching students about racial history in public schools in the Parents Bill of Rights. “National discourse around political and social issues has created negative and polarizing effects on teachers, school administrators, students, and families,” a press release from Rokita’s office said. “Education policy and curriculum should reflect the values of Indiana families while meeting the mandatory requirements set forth in law. The single most effective way to ensure school accountability is for parents to engage in their children’s education. The Parents Bill of Rights empowers them to do just that.”
In the Parents Bill of Rights, Rokita described CRT and the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which won a Pulitzer Prize, as controversial and widespread, but have principles “not rooted in American history or deep historical fact.” The document said that “Classroom instruction rooted in CRT teachings clearly runs afoul of broad non-discrimination protections, equal protection, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and well-established Indiana law.”