Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of a 4-part series
- Teacher Diana Reeves: ‘Insert social justice … information for even little kids to understand.’
- 8-year-olds answer that the Constitution doesn’t work equally for everyone because ‘some people have different beliefs’ and ‘If you are privileged you are white.’
- Teachers guide unassuming children to their desired answers.
- 8-year-old child: ‘White privilege is when people that are White get an advantage to the people who are people of color.’
- Another 8-year-old child: ‘White privilege is something that White people have, meaning they have an advantage in a lot of things and they can get a job more easily.’
- Another student claims privilege is ‘systematic’ because of the Constitution.
- High school student: ‘I feel like I’m going to go home and tell my parents that I’m a racist … ’
- Teacher Rosemary Colt
- Teacher Diana Reeves
- 8-year-old students
- High school students
MADISON, Wis. – “White Privilege” theorists aren’t content with just indoctrinating high school students. Their agenda is to start earlier than that. Four- and five-year-olds are much more impressionable than a skeptical teenager.
That’s why there was a session at the 2014 White Privilege Conference – held in Madison, Wisconsin in late March – titled, “Examining White Privilege and Building Foundations for Social Justice Thinking in the Elementary Classroom.” The session was led by two teachers, Rosemary Colt and Diana Reeves.
“But what we’re hoping to be able to convince you is possible is to take the (inaudible) sequences, which you are directed to be using, and to find within them opportunities to begin to insert social justice, anti-racist information for even little kids to understand,” Reeves said.
The teachers posted examples of their lessons for attendees to consider.
One lesson dealt with the U.S. Constitution.
“Does it work equally well for everyone?” the worksheet asks.
“No,” one child wrote, “because some people have different beliefs.”
“What does it mean to be privileged,” another question asks.
“If you are privileged you are white,” another child answered.
The teachers also played a video they produced with their students, where they interviewed them about their perceptions of race and privilege. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is how the teachers guide the students to the desired answers. (No wonder they have to target unassuming children.)
“Do you remember that word that I used when we were talking about our previous role play, where it’s sometimes hard, if you are this, to think about people who may not be so. It started with a P –pri…”
“Pretending!” one child exclaims.
“No, pretending is what we’re doing,” the teacher responds.
“Sometimes you have a lot, and you’re not even aware of how much you have. And it’s sometimes called privilege,” the teacher says in the video.
So “privilege” refers to how much stuff people have? Only White people have lots of stuff and therefore privilege?
“Do you remember that word, privilege?” the teacher asked the children. “If you have privileges, it’s sometimes difficult to even think about people who might not have privileges.”
The teachers’ video then features 8-year-old students sounding off on what they’ve been taught by their activist teachers.
“White privilege is when people that are white get an advantage to the people who are people of color,” one child said.
“So if there was like a job, and a person of color was applying, and a white person was applying, and the owner was a white person, they might pick the white person just because of the person’s color, even if the black person was better,” the student says.
“White privilege is something that white people have, meaning they have an advantage in a lot of things and they can get a job more easily,” another child says in the teachers’ video presentation.
“Many people say, ‘Oh, the U.S. is improving in these areas.’ Is it really? Because those were the foundations put in the first place,” a student told our investigator. “And the foundation was systematic because we’re still following the Constitution today.”
At the end of the conference, attendees had a chance to sound off before the audience.
“I’m really happy to be here. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I feel like I’ve had this space where I can be weak and vulnerable and I don’t have to lie about that,” one student told the audience from the main staging.
“I can talk about how the racism inside me, I feel like I’m going to go home and tell my parents that I’m a racist and I’m not proud of that but I’m proud that I can say that,” he said.
At that moment, the assembled group of educators and activists applauded their latest convert.
Coming tomorrow: contradictions and hypocrisy amongst the anti-capitalist activists.
Authored by Kyle Olson
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