Dividing by Race Comes to Grade School – The Wall Street Journal
Students, ages 5 through 11, are urged to 'check each other's words and actions' and become committed activists.
by Bion Bartning
March 7, 2021
ILLUSTRATION: MARTIN KOZLOWSKI
My awakening to the new orthodoxy began during this past summer of discontent. In mid-June, a few weeks after the George Floyd protests began, the head of Riverdale Country School, the New York City private school my wife and I entrusted with the education of our two young children, sent a memo apologizing for unspecified past wrongs. "We have the responsibility to use our privilege to fight for change," he explained. "We are also free to shift some aspects of our culture more quickly than other institutions and organizations."
In September, at the first assembly of the year, instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing "America the Beautiful"—longstanding school traditions—the head of the lower school announced that the "theme" for the year would be "allyship." He then played a video in which the school mascot told students, ages 5 through 11, to "check each other's words and actions." The lower-school head had earlier written that "it is essential that parents/caregivers and educators acknowledge racial differences (as opposed to a ‘colorblind' stance)" and offered reading recommendations such as Robin DiAngelo's "White Fragility." Families at Riverdale are encouraged to join school-sponsored "affinity" groups to bond with people from their ethnicity or skin color. One is called simply "the POC," short for "parents of color."
At this point in the story, perhaps "lived experiences" become relevant. I am half Mexican and Yaqui, an indigenous tribe native to the U.S.-Mexico border region, and half Jewish. I spent the first year of my life on a commune in Berkeley, Calif. Growing up, I was aware that I had darker skin than my mother and my classmates, but I was never taught to define my identity by the color of my skin. My mixed background and ancestry made me feel like nothing more than a typical American.
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