Blogs > Liberty and Power > "Anti-racist" Indoctrination in Guilford County

May 27, 2005 9:19 am

"Anti-racist" Indoctrination in Guilford County

The Guilford County school system in North Carolina has implemented mandatory “anti-racism” diversity training workshops for teachers. To conduct these workshops, it has hired Crossroads Ministry (and its “professional trainers”).

It is impossible for me in a short blog to list all my objections to this outrageous program of indoctrination. According to a newspaper story,

Participants are taught that history is written from the perspective of whites and that laws and policies benefit whites while putting minorities at an immediate disadvantage. The district paid Crossroads Ministry about $45,000 for training through mid-November, a district spokesman said. More current costs were not available. Superintendent Terry Grier wants to spend $500,000 next year on teacher training, including anti-racism sessions from groups such as Crossroads.

This strikes close to home for me. Several years ago, eight faculty, including myself and fellow L and P members Jim Otteson and Charles Nuckolls, successfully fought off an attempt by Crossroads to implement this program at the University of Alabama. As an alternative, we proposed a voluntary program of debates and speeches which would feature speakers representing all perspectives, ranging from Cornel West to Thomas Sowell. Our opponents, who advocated the one-sided workshops, spurned this proposal.

We published an open letter describing some of our objections. In it, we charged that the workshops were

at odds with the purpose of a university because they are based on a single, politically charged, interpretation of racism. These principles are articulated in the writings of Rev. Joseph Barndt, the executive director of Crossroads Ministry. The President of the UA Faculty Senate has stated that Rev. Barndt's book Dismantling Racism: The Continuing Challenge to White America (1991) shows"the content which is taught [at the UA training workshops] and the organizing principles which are part of the sessions. It will give you an excellent overview of what this work is about." A sample of the claims Barndt makes in his book: all whites are racists, while no blacks are; racism is a white"disease" that, like alcoholism, is never cured, though it can be treated; and whites routinely suffer from a false consciousness, believing that they are not racist or unfairly privileged, when in fact they are both.

At least one blog, Hube’s Cube, has drawn attention to these issues. Hopefully more will follow.

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More Comments:

David Timothy Beito - 5/27/2005

Michael: We found that the best best alternative is to propose spending the money on some sort of speakers series. Some (or all) the speakers could be people from the community who probably wouldn't charge forty-five thousand dollars. Another source of talent woudld be NC blacks, and whites, who participated in voter register/anti-Jim Crow campaigns. As you note, speakers of this type would contribute a great deal more to racial understanding and reconciliation than highly ideological trainers who were essentially given their authority through "certificates" that are no better than mail order degrees.

One of the common objections to a speakers series is that nobody will come.....but this is not true. We invited Autherine Lucy, the first black student at the University of Alabama, to speak. We attracted a standing in aisles crowd of hundreds and her speech was very well received. All of it was completely voluntary. Had we tried to force people to attend, there would be have a lot of needless error and resentment. The Crossroads idealogues, of course, will reject a speakers series but many other people of good will will probably be receptive. Thanks again for speaking out on this. I have been enjoying your blogs. Best, David

Michael Christopher - 5/26/2005

David, thank you for your comment at my blog. You are right, I had not noticed that it was mandatory. The fact that they do not allow alternate viewpoints takes their credibility away and for me leaves them intellectually bankrupt and no better than the radical right. Years ago in the independent school world in which I work a similar group did a numnber of assessments of schools, laying waste even the most progressive environments as 'nests of racism.' Because of the destructive force of this one-sided attack, much healing was delayed and a considerable amount of positive work with students was dismantled.

David Timothy Beito - 5/23/2005

I think that there is. It is really quite amazing that an explicitly religious organization is being subsidized in this blatant way.

Mark Brady - 5/23/2005

Is there any scope for a challenge to this program that turns on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment? After all, Joseph Barndt is the Reverend Joseph Brandt and he is the executive director of the Crossroads Ministry.