A video of a group of teenage students chanting the n-word at a private party in Southlake, Texas, went viral three years ago. A group of parents is now fighting back against the school district’s attempt to incorporate cultural awareness into the curriculum.
Southlake is not a racist community, according to many parents who attended a school board meeting for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake on Monday.
The meeting was held following the city elections over the weekend, which saw huge victories for candidates opposing the district’s plans. Two school board candidates, two city council candidates, and the mayoral candidate all received roughly 70% of the vote.
They were all endorsed by the Southlake Families PAC, a group whose main issue is Carroll ISD’s new Cultural Competence Action Plan, which was formed in response to the viral video from 2018. According to a draft of the plan, which was supposed to be presented for adoption last August before being postponed, it aims to address racism in the district by emphasizing “cultural awareness” among students through anti-bullying programs and assembly speakers. It also requires things like diversity training for the staff.
According to the PAC’s website, racism is a problem, but the plan is not a solution: “We affirm that genuine racism persists around the world, and while it is uncommon in Southlake, we oppose it. We believe that the current CCAP does not address any racist issues and, in fact, promotes more racism rather than less.”
Many parents and community members echoed those sentiments at Monday’s school board meeting, citing the weekend’s election results.
Though the plan does not specifically mention critical race theory, the field of study has evolved into a catch-all for any type of education involving race. The actual plan, on the other hand, is centered on cultural awareness, citing the district’s “increasingly diverse student population.” A few days later, the group elaborated on that stance.
“CRT is a theoretical framework which views society as dominated by white supremacy and categorizes people as ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color,” the group wrote on Monday. “It also teaches kids to hate America. Ask yourself who in their right mind would want this taught in public schools?”
The entire situation, including the blaming of critical race theory, the emphasis on indoctrination, and the general demonization of racial education, is part of a larger trend that is currently taking place across the United States.
Idaho recently moved to prohibit “critical race theory” or any form of racial education in its public schools, including public universities. Though the bill stated that teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior” was prohibited, supporters of the bill specifically mentioned critical race theory and claimed students were being indoctrinated – just like in Southlake.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tweeted on Tuesday, “Critical race theory is harmful to a child’s education,” above a short video with the graphic, “Schools need to stop teaching kids that they’re racist.”
According to those who study it, critical race theory refers to a field of study dedicated to understanding systemic inequality and racism in the United States, arguing that historical systems such as slavery continue to play a role in society today.
Rolle, who is Black, recalled several instances in which White peers used the n-word. Despite the fact that she reported them to school officials, she claims they were never punished.
Rolle recalled a specific incident in which a student used the word repeatedly. When she went to the principal’s office to report them, she stated that the other student denied everything. Meanwhile, the principal told her, “Just don’t let them dim your light, and you’ll be fine.”
The issue, according to several former students, is that using the slur is often perceived as bullying rather than racism. And the faculty doesn’t always see it as a problem, according to Maddy Heymann, a 2017 graduate. She used the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which they had to read, as an example. The proposed Cultural Competence Action Plan isn’t perfect, several students said.
Anya Kushwaha, a 2016 graduate, noted that the 34-page document only mentions racism once and does not address systemic or institutionalized issues. Instead, it is primarily concerned with preventing bullying and increasing “cultural awareness.”