New York City School Asks Parents to Rank Their ‘Whiteness’

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Parents whose children attend the East Side Community School reportedly viewed a ranked list of “The 8 White Identities,” ranging from “White Supremacist” to “White Abolitionist.”

Authored by Barnor Hesse, an associate professor of African American Studies at Northwestern University, the ranked list is introduced with the following statement:

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’s eight identities are:

  1. White Supremacist
  2. White Voyeurism
  3. White Privilege
  4. White Benefit
  5. White Confessional
  6. White Critical
  7. White Traitor
  8. White Abolitionist

The “white supremacist” identity is found in the “red zone” of a color-coordinated meter that accompanied the handout, and is described as “clearly marked white society that preserves, names, and values white superiority,” while a “white abolitionist,” in the green zone, is one who is “changing institutions, dismantling whiteness, and not allowing whiteness to reassert itself.”

According to the Post, a New York City Department of Education official said some parents at the 6th-12th grade school first shared the handout with school staff. Subsequently, the principal, Mark Federman, distributed the material to every parent “as part of a series of materials meant for reflection” and as ‘food for thought,” the report said.

In a statement to the Post, a Department of Education spokesperson 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 spokesperson reportedly added school employees are experiencing threats over the materials.

“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,” the department representative reportedly said.

In 2007, Federman was arrested after he attempted to block security guards to stop them from embarrassing a 17-year-old student who had been charged with punching a guard in the eye and was about to be removed from the school in handcuffs.

Federman reportedly demanded the guards remove the girl from the school through a secluded back door in order to prevent her from being seen by other students.

Critical Race Theory investigator Christopher Rufo of the Discovery Institute tweeted the color-coded meter of “white identities” that shows the curriculum is sponsored by the Slow Factory Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to build “anti-racist community and growing climate-positive global movements,” according to its website.

The foundation’s open education institute states it provides “equity-centered education for Black, Brown, Indigenous and minority ethnic communities, taught by Black, Brown, Indigenous and minority ethnic scholars, thinkers and educators.”

The organization defines “equity-centered education” (ECE) as:

Education that acknowledges power structures and historical social context as a key driver of any topic. Focusing on free and open accessibility, ECE initiatives are typically offered without academic admission requirements and distributed online. Open education broadens access to learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems or corporate programs that are inaccessible to most people.

Among its offerings for its “equity-based education” are courses with these titles:

  • Fashion And Colonialism
  • Fashion And Resistance
  • Fashion And Prison Labor
  • Fashion And Cultural Heritage
  • Fashion And Reproductive Health

The “special advisor” to the foundation is designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia.