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August 22, 2019

White School Teachers Told People of Color Cannot Be Racist

Only whites can be racist, according to a presentation delivered to teachers in Chattanooga, TN

Only white people can be racist, according to a presentation delivered to public-school teachers in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I was appalled to hear this,” Hamilton County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said on “The Todd Starnes Radio Show.” “First of all, I was very much offended by this. Somebody came in from out of town — that I don’t know — and they don’t know me and assumed that I’m racist right off the bat just because I’m white. They don’t know what kind of childhood I had. They don’t know anything about me.”

The Tennessee Star reports that the presentation on white privilege included a number of jaw-dropping claims:

  • People of color cannot be racist because they lack the institutional power to adversely affect white lives.

  • Even if minorities sometimes complain about whites, such complaints serve as coping mechanisms to withstand racism rather than actual anti-white bias.

  • Even when minorities express or practice prejudice against whites they are not racists.

  • White privilege is both a legacy and a cause of racism.

  • White privilege exists because of historic, enduring racism and biases.

Thurman said on my nationally syndicated radio program that teachers were outraged over the presentation.

“A lot of teachers were upset about it. This was just a few days before school started. Teachers need to be working in their classroom but instead they had to sit through this presentation,” she said.

Thurman said the school district’s training session is “planting the seeds of bitterness and division in these fertile minds of these kids.”

“The [training] said if [students] showed any kind of animosity toward a white person it was usually just a coping mechanism,” Thurman said. “So I wonder how the teachers feel about that? That [students] can criticize their teacher any way that they want to and it’s just looked at as a coping mechanism for them for racism.”

It’s a fair question.

“What does this have to do with student achievement, number one, which is what we’re supposed to be about,” the school-board member demanded to know.

“I wondered how it made the white teachers in attendance feel to know that they were going to go into a classroom where 90% of the students were going to think that they were racist before they ever taught the first day,” she said.

Hamilton County School District spokesman Tim Hensley told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that they regretted there had been a misinterpretation of the presentation.

“The slides are being misrepresented as a presentation on white privilege. For the slides in question, the speaker was reviewing terms that can impact perception and definitions attached to the terms when the slides were used. White Privilege was one of several terms on slides during the short part of the presentation,” Hensley said.

The school district’s argument doesn’t hold water, folks. It said that only 15 minutes of the 90-minute presentation was about white privilege. But it doesn’t matter if it was only five minutes.

The Hamilton County School District owes an apology to every white teacher who was in attendance at that workshop. They were singled out because of the color of their skin, and that’s just not right.

That workshop flies in the face of everything Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for — the idea of a society where people would not be judged by the color of their skin.

Shame on you, Hamilton County School District.

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