School Task Force on Race Takes a Radical Turn
By Peter Jovanovich
This June, the Board of Education established a Race, Inclusivity, and Community Task Force to begin and pursue a conversation that explores the issues of racism, inclusivity, equity, and community in our schools. The Task Force, comprised of students/alumni, faculty, and community members, was formed to focus on student support, curriculum, professional development, athletics, and other areas.
To guide the Task Force, the District hired the Steinhardt Center at NYU, represented by Natalie Zwerger and Luis Alejandro Tapia. Zwerger is a critical race theorist. An extensive reading of her writings reveals her beliefs that the United States is systemically racist; that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our laws and politics are designed to sustain white supremacy; and that white people, because of their innate bias, are unable to discuss race truthfully. As she stated on September 29 via Twitter, “I’m here for radical revolution.”
According to participants, at the August 27 meeting, they were given a
PowerPoint presentation that encouraged them to prioritize racial equity — equality of outcomes — over equality of opportunity. Racial equity, in the words of the consultants, “is the condition that would be if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.”
In her presentation, Zwerger included a letter entitled, “Dear White People: Let’s Not Be Our Ancestors.” The letter states that America is the embodiment of white supremacy. She exhorts students and teachers to “wrestle with our ancestral history as colonizers and enslavers.”
At the October 7 meeting, one Task Force member challenged the Steinhardt orthodoxy; for which the individual was rebuked. Labeling the Black Lives Matter organization as being “terrorist” for endorsing looting and arson, the individual was criticized by several members of the Task Force, including its leaders. As Director Zwerger noted, “Harm was done.”
Another Task Force member recalled that Luis Tapia stated these ground rules: “If you don’t agree that America is systemically and structurally racist, you don’t belong on the Task Force.”
Another Task Force meeting is scheduled for December.