The public education community is blaming Trump’s presence for an uptick in racial tensions on school campuses. The center of the conflict is the Edina Public School district in Minnesota. After one kindergarten teacher’s Instagram post of a class art project entitled “The Melanin Project” went viral on Fox News, the district seemingly spiraled out of control. And somehow it’s all Trump’s fault.
The Melanin Project involves five-year-olds cutting out hand tracings, coloring them in various “skin tone” shades and pasting them onto a board with the caption, “Stop thinking your skin color is better than everyone elses! [sic] Everyone is special!”
The project fell into line with the district’s 2013 equity plan designed to “gain a better understanding of and eliminate barriers rooted in racial constructs and cultural misunderstandings that can interfere with a student’s learning or reduce his/her willingness to persist academically.” Ironically, the equity plan states, “In Edina Public Schools, all learners will have access to rigorous and challenging learning opportunities, which lead to measured growth and high achievement without predictable links to race, culture or ethnicity.” How does The Melanin Project fit that goal?
Parents of the 5-year-olds who took part in the project might wonder why their teacher assumes her students are all racists. I’ve never known a 5-year-old to notice skin color, let alone take a supremacist attitude about their own unless, of course, they’re taught to do so. Yet, in the case of the Edina Public Schools equity plan, students are being taught that their skin color directly impacts their ability to achieve in the classroom. Students aren’t just getting this message from the projects they do in class. They’re receiving it by the actions of their administration. According to the equity plan, teachers and administrators are required to specifically target non-white students for enrollment in the district’s gifted program. Students who come from low-income areas are also given a “unique” opportunity to enroll in “Saturday school” for additional academic assistance. They are also given the option to check out a district laptop for home use.
Yet, the district is blaming the Trump Administration for the uptick in racially-motivated incidents since The Melanin Project was reported on by Fox News. According to one report, since The Melanin Project went viral, “racist graffiti appeared in a school bathroom, students have experienced hateful vitriol, and some teachers have received violent threats.” Thanks to the news coverage, Edina quickly became a talking point for politicians and pundits nationwide. Plenty of conversations have been had by parents as well, the majority of whom don’t understand why The Melanin Project, or the equity plan for that matter, are under fire. Sure, the district’s test scores have gone down over the past few years since the plan was implemented, but they’re still better than most of the other districts surrounding them. So, what’s the big deal?
Parental support of the equity plan isn’t shocking. Today’s parents were the first generation raised under affirmative action. Like me, they were probably forced to interact with race in awkward scenarios involving white teachers shaking rain sticks at them while telling them how amazing Africa is. If they expressed an ironic level of discomfort at having someone’s cultural history boiled down to skin tone, they were taught they were racist. To balk at any plan with the word “equity” in the title is to assume a position of racism. Even if you’re pointing out that there is no equity in any plan designed to favor one ethnic or economic group over another.
The issue isn’t that race should or shouldn’t be taught, but the fact that race has become the foundation of education. Students are no longer permitted to view subjects through an objective lens of fact or via a scientific method of comprehension, analysis, experimentation, and evaluation. Instead, they must view every idea they encounter through the lens of race. The ironic reality is that the eugenicists have won through the implementation of an educational plan educators claim will quash racism. By forcing students as young as five years old to focus on a person’s skin color and racial origin, educators are turning skin color and racial origin into the litmus test through which all subjects must pass. Is it any wonder high school students can’t so much as discuss a novel without turning it into a race war?