A public grade school in Portland put up a series of signs on its fence that begin, “Our white children will know the names,” followed by the names of blacks killed at the hands of police. The signs were apparently placed by a teacher employed by the Portland Public School system. The signs appeared about a week and a half ago, in apparent response the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The school employee who posted the pictures included this commentary with them:
Names have power. We post these names to honor and reflect on the humanity behind the protests happening in our City and around the world. These are a small number of the Black lives lost to police brutality and white supremacy. These are mothers and fathers, sisters, and brothers, children. Saying these names keeps in our minds and our hearts that these are human lives we mourn. These are Black Lives we stand and march for. We hope you will take a moment to walk or drive by and reflect on these names, on these lives. Learn their stories. Remember them. Then take action in their memory, and for all Black Lives. Action can take many forms. Please take all the actions that are available to you. March and attend rallies. Donate to anti-racist organizations and shop at Black owned businesses. Use your voice to write letters and make calls for systemic change. Read, listen, and learn from Black voices. Be an upstander when you see racism in action. Spread love and kindness. Be well. #BlackLivesMatter
A few years ago, I wrote about antifa summer camps that actively recruited and trained new protesters from elementary schools.
That was bad enough. Now, it’s an official curriculum in the Portland Public Schools.
The comments on the post were mostly supportive, except for one parent who questioned the need to single out white kids:
I am sorry but why does the sign say “Our white children will know…..? Why not just say “Our children will know….” this IS the PROBLEM! Why is this racially divided like this. We are a social justice school yet we keep dividing our kids.
The answers came in the form of demands from parents of all races that this parent learn how her white children possess white privilege and have a duty to dismantle the systems of white supremacy that supposedly dominate ultra-liberal Portland, Oregon.
it’s a way to show the importance of teaching our white children about these issues, and yes all of our students.
And black people need to know that we’re teaching our white kids what they have always had to teach their kids to survive.
It’s solidarity, not division. My white kids know that this is what support can look like and they can feel closer to people as a result.
I’m committed to teaching my children anti-racism. White children ABSOLUTELY need to know. And hopefully we can begin the dismantling of socialized racism by talking to and teaching our white children differently. Race exists. Pretending my children don’t experience this world differently (with privilege) and safer is inaccurate. It’s not about “division” it is about reality. I highly recommend you read this book: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
By acknowledging the color of ourselves and of our children, we can acknowledge the difference in how they are treated and how privilege and injustice affect them based on their color. Black children already know these names. Black families already know these names. It is the white children and their families who need to learn these names, learn about the people behind them, and the injustices they faced.
When we teach colorblindness, that a person’s race SHOULDN’T matter, what’s being learned by our White children is that a person’s race DOESN’T matter
In case you’re unfamiliar, the book White Fragility purports to tell how involving white people is counterproductive when talking about racism:
Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality
Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo first coined the term “white fragility” in 2011, and since then it’s been invoked by critics from Samantha Bee to Charles Blow. “White fragility” refers to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially. These include emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors including argumentation and silence.
In this book, DiAngelo unpacks white fragility, explaining the underlying sociological phenomena. She’ll draw on examples from her work and scholarship, as well as from the culture at large, to address these fundamental questions: How does white fragility develop? What does it look like? How is it triggered? What can we do to move beyond white fragility and engage more constructively?
No liberty-minded American should object to having an honest conversation about race relations in our country and coming up with real solutions to existing problems. But to start at the very beginning with the incontrovertibility of America’s original and unerasable sin, in the mode of the 1619 Project, is a dishonest a starting point.
The school, called the Portland Vestal School, describes itself as a social justice school. In the Facebook group where the pictures were posted, it says, “This is a group for Vestal K-5 School for Social Justice community members (including families, teachers, volunteers, and community partners).”
The school website has this on its about page:
MISSION: Working together through social justice standards, student voice, critical dialogue, and meaningful action, the Vestal Community will strengthen our academic proficiency and social and emotional skills thereby creating and sustaining a forward thinking caring school and community.
What does is mean to be a Social Justice School?
Students will learn about empathy, anti-bullying, community, and restorative practices through applying a justice level within our school community.
Students will be able to define social justice, articulate a local injustice, research, and advocate for a local change.
Students will practice critical thinking through studying LOCAL issues,partnering with local organizations, and creating noticeable change.
Students will apply a local social justice lens to a local problem at each grade level.
Students will present authentic solutions to relevant audiences.
Students will end every school year with a portfolio of their learning around social justice and the action they have taken.
Vestal school will become a community center for dialogue and discourse around both local and global social justice issues.
Vestal school will be a ‘live museum’ of people and movements for Social Justice.
It’s no longer a surprise to see openly Marxist ideas being taught in Portland schools, including cultural Marxism. It should concern everyone who believes in American ideals, however, to know that public schools deliberately undermine the entire reason for our founding, and the grand experiment in liberty.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.