Media

Karel | May 26, 2021

Schools say they teach critical race theory, even as education reporters falsely deny it

Hans Bader of Liberty Unyielding reports that schools are teaching critical race theory, even as liberal education reporters deny it is taught anywhere, and falsely claim it is not taught in in even a single school system.

Detroit’s school superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, says critical race theory is deeply embedded in his school system: “Our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory, especially in social studies, but you’ll find it in English language arts and the other disciplines. We were very intentional about … embedding critical race theory within our curriculum.”

His school district is not alone. Twenty percent of urban school teachers have discussed or taught critical race theory with K-12 students, as have 8 percent of teachers nationally, according to an Education Week survey. The Seattle public schools employed a critical race theorist as part of the district’s efforts to embed the theory in elementary schools.

“Unequivocally, critical race theory is taught in K-12 public schools,” said the Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher, noting he wrote a research paper detailing numerous instances of school districts openly using the phrase “critical race theory” in curriculum plans.

Seattle Public Schools notes that its “Black Studies” class includes critical race theory. “Critical Race Theory” is also “explicitly included in a course at Ballard High School in Seattle,” reports the conservative Washington Examiner. Seattle is injecting critical race theory into its curriculum, including a mandatory Black Studies course “that will be required for graduation from Seattle Public Schools.”

Yet, education reporters — almost all of whom are progressives — insist that no school system anywhere is teaching critical race theory. America has thousands of school systems, with widely varying curriculums, so reporters can’t possibly know what each and every school district teaches. But they claim that no school system anywhere teaches critical race theory, despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary.

In November, after the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools had become a national political issue, Washington Post education reporter Hannah Natanson wrote that critical race theory “is not taught at the K-12 level in Virginia — or anywhere else in the country.” Education reporters Laura Meckler and Timothy Bella wrote on November 8 that “critical race theory…is not taught by any K-12 systems.” The Washington Post’s Paul Schwartzman wrote that “it is not part of classroom teaching.” The Post’s Aaron Blake claimed that schools “don’t actually teach it.” The Washington Post editorial board wrote that “critical race theory is not part of local school systems’ K-12 curriculum…There’s scant evidence it’s taught anywhere.” 

The Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey claimed that critical race theory is “an intellectual movement that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism and is not part of the public school curriculum.

But it is in some schools’ curriculum, and it is not just an “intellectual movement” aimed at addressing racism or discrimination. Critical race theory is a radical ideology that is hostile to the free market economy, equating it with racism: “To love capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism…Capitalism is essentially racist; racism is essentially capitalist,” says the best-selling book promoting critical race theory, How to Be An Antiracist. That book is a “comprehensive introduction to critical race theory,” gushes the leading progressive media organ Slate.

And what does it teach? Not ending discrimination. The “key concept” in Ibram Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist is that discrimination against whites is the only way to achieve equality: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination,” writes Kendi in that book. Kendi is a leading “critical race theorist.”

If state education bureaucracies had their way, critical race theory would become more common in school curriculums. In 2015, Virginia’s Department of Education instructed public schools to “embrace critical race theory” in order to “re-engineer attitudes and belief systems.'”

Virginia’s largest school system, the Fairfax County Public Schools, now encourages teachers to apply to apply critical race theory. The Washington Times reports that a “slide presentation this summer instructed social studies teachers in Fairfax County Public Schools that ‘critical race theory is a frame’ for their work.”

The Arlington County schools have students read books by critical race theorists such as Ibram Kendi. Arlington distributed hundreds of copies of Ibram Kendi’s book “Stamped” to students at Wakefield High School. The book contains many errors and celebrates a Marxist anti-Semite. It also peddles conspiracy theories and is dismissive about Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass.

The Loudoun County, VA public schools paid a contractor to train their staff in critical race theory, giving it $3,125 to conduct “Critical Race Theory Development.”

Virginia’s official “Roadmap to Equity” published by its Department of Education in 2020 thanked critical race theorist “Dr. Ibram X. Kendi” in its acknowledgments section, as having “informed the development of the EdEquityVA Framework.” Kendi says he was “inspired by critical race theory,” and that he cannot “imagine a pathway to” his teachings “that does not engage CRT.”

 

Why Is Critical Race Theory Dangerous For Our Kids?

A seven-year-old comes home from school saying, “I’m ashamed that I’m White. Is there something wrong with me? Why am I hated so much?” In terms of the tenets of CRT this is the desired result of her lessons. This mental and emotional trauma is seeping into every classroom in America.

For months, parents have raised the alarm about the left’s effort to brainwash our children by injecting Critical Race Theory (CRT) into public school curriculum. One Tennessee mom recently warned Williamson County parents that her seven-year-old daughter came home from school saying, “I’m ashamed that I’m White.” Her daughter asked, “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I hated so much?” This reaction is reason enough to start asking questions, but those who have yet to investigate the tenets of CRT will be shocked to know that this child’s distress was the desired result of her lessons. If left unchecked, this mental and emotional trauma will worm its way into every classroom in America.

 Although promoted as “anti-racist” civil rights education, CRT actively encourages discrimination. At its core, CRT segregates people into two main categories: oppressors or victims. The calculation is based solely on skin color. The tenets of CRT stretch far beyond the humanities. In some classrooms in Oregon and California, students operate under the understanding that “finding the right answer” in mathematics is racist. “Right” and “wrong” answers are deemed a product of white supremacy. The woke gymnastics required to reach such a conclusion would be amusing if this destructive ideology didn’t pose such a danger to education in America.

 We can all agree that racism and discrimination are wrong and have no place in the classroom—but neither does racially motivated propaganda. In the U.S. Senate, I’ve been leading the charge for true equality in the classroom. I led legislation prohibiting federal funding of the “1619 Project,” which reframes American history in terms of racial conflict and oppression. I also joined my Senate colleagues in demanding that Critical Race Theory’s prejudicial influence be kept out of K–12 classrooms.

 Many on the left have tried to dismiss this as a political non-issue, but here in Tennessee, we see opposition to CRT is coming straight from parents and educators. In response, the Tennessee State Legislature passed and Governor Bill Lee signed a bill banning CRT in schools. Still, we must continue to stand firm at a local level. Children should not be forced to endure this latest round of revisionist history, but it will take more than letters and legislation to keep CRT out of the classroom. Parents need to keep showing up to school board meetings and reporting discriminatory conduct.

 The last thing educators should be doing is encouraging our children to be ashamed of the color of their skin. That same Williamson County mom who warned about the dangers of CRT was left with no choice but to put her seven-year-old in therapy. Why? “She is depressed. She doesn’t want to go to school.” While parents struggle to help their children manage the mental and emotional damage inflicted by this dangerous ideology, the left will continue to re-write our education system to fit their woke agenda—and they won’t stop until CRT is in every classroom in America. I will gladly stand with Tennessee parents to demand an end to this latest, unhinged attempt to brainwash our nation’s children.

 

 
 

Understanding critical race theory reveals how it's harmful to race relations

Dr. Greg Ganske argues that CRT has the opposite effect of achieving racial harmony. It leads us to worse race relations, not better.

Big Biz has found that Critical Race Theory is bad for business

Charles Gasparino of the New York Post argues that there are limits to what big business will do to appeal to the progressive left for social respectability.

I’ve noticed something lately covering the woke culture that’s threatening to turn corporate offices into university-style safe spaces: There are apparently limits to how far left big companies are willing to veer to gain progressive brownie points. 

Case in point: the much-celebrated diversity hustle that companies had begun to embrace during our summer of “largely peaceful protests.” Of course, we all want a diverse workforce, but after the tragic murder of George Floyd, some firms thought it would be smart to indoctrinate office workers in that noxious fad known as Critical Race Theory. 

CRT is an amalgam of left-wing talking points spewed out by the growing diversity-consulting business. The stated purpose by its practitioners sounds noble enough: Use CRT to root out racism and make the world a better place. 

How CRT gets there is the problem. Racism gets rooted out mainly by brainwashing white people into believing they are inherently evil racists. They are inherently evil racists because America is systemically racist, no matter how much it has strived during its history to be better. 

Thus to be good corporate citizens, they need to be re-educated and reprogrammed from their ­inherently racist past. 

If you think that sounds a little like the stuff Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot pushed back in the day, you wouldn’t be wrong. CRT began where most dumb ideas begin, among leftists on college campuses. It wasn’t long before it somehow began seeping into the mainstream, into classrooms and finally into corporate America, particularly after the unrest of the past year. 

Yet suddenly CRT has begun to face obstacles. Across the country, parents are objecting to teaching kids they are evil little racists. While it is always dangerous to draw broad conclusions from isolated instances, the evidence is mounting that CRT is now coming under review in ­corporate America as well. 

According to my reporting, corporate HR departments, particularly on Wall Street, are worried that overly politicized and polarizing diversity training is among the most counterproductive fads in recent years if you want your workforce to get along. 

Worse, it is just bad for business. 

Consider: At the height of the racial unrest last year, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was taking a knee in apparent support of the radical and Marxist “Black Lives Matter” movement. 

The New York Times reported that the e-mail inbox of Robin ­DiAngelo, the academic considered one of the key architects of CRT, “was flooded with urgent e-mails” from various companies requesting that she share her thoughts with their employees. 

One of those companies, according to the Times, was Goldman Sachs. But when Eleanor Terrett of Fox Business pressed Goldman on the matter, a senior executive denied that DiAngelo was ever retained for its diversity training. (DiAngelo did not respond to a request for comment.) 

Goldman appears not to be alone in drawing the line in its CRT wokeness. Executives at Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and, yes, Dimon’s JPMorgan all claim they are not advocating CRT as part of their diversity training.So why the ostensible about-face? Part of it is embarrassment, I believe. The big banks saw how foolish American Express, the mega-profitable credit-card company, looked recently when Chris Rufo of the Manhattan Institute reported how the company has forced its employees to take part in anti-American, anti-capitalist, CRT “bias” training. (Amex is still ducking my calls and e-mails on the matter). 

CRT is also counterproductive. Big companies, particularly big investment banks, rely on teamwork. CRT does just the opposite, dividing people along racial lines between oppressors and the oppressed. “We need people to get along,” said one executive at a big bank that has cleansed CRT from training sessions. 

Of course, it’s difficult for me to know whether the CRT cease-and-desist is real. (I’m not in the training sessions to determine if Goldman or JPMorgan, for example, have replaced CRT with something equally absurd that simply drops the noxious-sounding name.) 

That said, workplace-inclusion consultants with whom I spoke say the trend away from this divisive training is happening because it’s both exhausting and idiotic to tell people they are inherently evil and expect them to work together. 

“I think there’s a recognition that companies were failing to ask if they were leaning too much into identity along the lines of race, ethnicity and gender,” said Ilana Redstone, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois and founder of Diverse Perspectives Consulting. “I think that is now changing. There is a middle ground where those dimensions of identity matter and so does the individual. Not everyone sees their race, ethnicity or gender as the most important part of who they are.”

 

Christopher Rufo - December tweets

Christopher looks at the instances of anti-racism through segregation!
 
Denver Public Schools now promoting racially-segregated playtime—for "equity."
 
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BREAKING: A public high school in suburban Chicago has created a racially-segregated field trip program for "students of color."
  
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[Tweet] Lwazi Lushaba addresses Herschel Girls School under their DEI program

Dr. Lwazi Lushaba is an irredeemable racist who lectures at UCT. He is not the person Herschel Girls School should be inviting to address the girls under their DEI program. Richard Wilkinson tweets.

https://twitter.com/wilkinsoncape/status/1488723849944485894?s=21

In response to Richard Wilkinson's tweet, below are our additional comment about Dr. Lushaba.

Dr. Lwazi Lushaba was suspended by Wits University for his involvement in a Student Representative Council (SRC) election debate which ended in physical altercations between members of Wits EFF and Project W – a non-politically affiliated student representative group.

He left Wits and was employed in the Politics Department of UCT the following year.

Prof. David Benatar’s book “The Fall of the University of Cape Town” devotes a chapter to an article he originally wrote for Politicsweb on 15 April 2021. CHAPTER 22: COMMANDANTE LUSHABA AND THE FÜHRER and it examines a statement made in a pre-recorded lecture posted online that ‘Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people have reserved for us, black people.’ 

Prof. Benatar in CHAPTER 18: SELECTING A DEAN: RACISTS V RACIST XENOPHOBES explores a tortuous process held to appoint a new dean to the Humanities Faculty. A selection committee had to be constituted. After the nominations and elections, Dr. Lushaba objected to a component of the committee.

When a member of the Philosophy Department said that it would not be right to re-open nominations and effectively discard the result, Dr. Lwazi accused the lecturer of being one of the ‘beneficiaries of racial privilege…[who arrogate unto themselves to (sic) right to tell us victims of racial injustice how we ought to comport ourselves’ and that the lecturer ‘can as best as whiteness does always summon institutions of British colonial violence and kill us.’ 

The process was tortuous and extended, too detailed to go into. Save to say, that when votes were being tallied he, inter alia, ‘began tearing up ballots, kicking ballot boxes removing some ballots and putting at least one in his mouth. He also “manhandled” two administrators when they tried to stop him.’

Famously Dr. Lushaba told his students that “blacks” and “whites” cannot be friends and then set an exam question in which he asked students to “specify the reason for the impossibility of such friendships. He also complained about the abundance of “white female” postgraduate students in his department.

Over and above what Prof. Benatar has said, during 2016 and 2017 the following public utterances were made by Dr. Lushaba:

Comrades and Black people, a called for the “defeat of White settlers”.  

“Free education is a problem for Black not White people.  This struggle is not for poor people.  It is for Black people.   Until we face the realities of history, will not be able to deal with the present, let alone prepare for the future.  If you are Black, you are disadvantaged in every respect.  If you are White, you are advantaged in every respect.  The struggle for free education is not about money.  The problem is the value system of education.”

“UCT continues to “teach precisely the same ideas it taught during Apartheid in order to perpetuate the colonial system.  The task of thinking has been made an exclusive preserve of White people.  Blacks cannot produce knowledge.”

“There is a structure [current ad hominem promotion procedures] that ensures that we are kept outside of the academy.  This is not accidental.  It is by design.  Those who are beneficiaries of colonialism and Apartheid [Whites] and, consequently occupy positions must have the decency to listen to the oppressed.  They will learn, even if it’s painful, they will learn.”

“White people provoke us and tell us how to respond to the provocation.  We have no autonomy of thought.”

“Currently, UCT graduates only seek jobs within the overarching “System” saying: “Please employ me because I’ve gone to a White racist UCT and survived.”

“We must tell the White people who are threatening to walk away that a time will come along soon when we will run UCT on our own and give them a new value system and not at the whim of ‘White’ sentiment”

“….our enemies, white people”

 

RIGHT OF REPLY | Try this for meaning, Prof Jansen

Prof. Jonathan Jansen in an article in TimesLive “Read this for meaning, Institute of Race Relations” (February 10), levelled certain accusations against the Institute of Race Relations, suggesting that “(bodies) such as the IRR should assist in achieving education goals instead of peddling right-wing fluff”. In essence he was criticising us for our concern over CRT being taught in our schools; he denies that is being taught and accused us of seeking 'to piggyback on the reactionary lies of zealots on the other side of the Atlantic.’ This is our reply.
n his article “Read this for meaning, Institute of Race Relations” (10 February), Professor Jonathan Jansen levels certain accusations against the Institute of Race Relations, suggesting that “(bodies) such as the IRR should assist in achieving education goals instead of peddling right-wing fluff”.
 
He says: ‘The 2030 read for meaning goal is within our reach, but we are distracted by government criminality and moral panics by the IRR. We have a choice to focus on nonsense or the debilitating crisis that faces our nation’s schools.
 
‘This week a brainless report from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) resurfaced online, with the heading “Educate, don’t indoctrinate”, a supposed call to resist children being indoctrinated with critical race theory in SA’s schools. Joining its right-wing ideological friends in American schools, the IRR clearly seeks to piggyback on the reactionary lies of zealots on the other side of the Atlantic.’
 
The IRR has always been concerned with the state of education in our schools, particularly as it affects the poorest children, and has devoted considerable time, energy and resources to investigating the quality of schooling, and devising strategies to raise standards, and improve outcomes. 
 
We have research that shows that matric results are artificially enhanced by a department-enforced drop-out rate. Consequently, weaker students leave school before their matric year, ensuring that already questionable results aren’t further diminished.
 
The IRR has done research on what makes some poor schools sites of academic excellence. We have also proposed the creation of a voucher system for parents to use to enable them to choose the schools they’d like their children to attend.
 
We also run one of the oldest and highly respected tertiary education bursary scheme, whose recipients include Nelson Mandela.
 
Our resource website “Educate don’t Indoctrinate” came into being in response to parents’ anguish, and I do not use the term lightly, to the “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) or “transformation” teaching in their children’s schools. It is, or is founded upon, Critical Race Theory (CRT).
 
The initiative started in response to CRT praxis (the blending of theory and practice ) appearing in private schools, but it is already being introduced in public schools, and the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, has endorsed its implementation publicly. 
 
Basically, children are taught that black students are victims and white students oppressors. This is the basis for “anti-racism” which is the opposing of racism against blacks. It is not non-racism.
 
The criticisms of CRT, aside from the above, include that white children are taught that the colour of their skin forever marks them as oppressors, and for black students that the colour of their skin forever labels them as victims. All in society are harmed by these lines of reasoning. 
 
CRT is mentioned explicitly in school documents and policies (including education department documents). For example, one well-known private school has, in terms of implementing a Social Justice Curriculum for 2021, stated: ‘Our intention is to underpin the curriculum with the (sic) critical race theory.’
 
Also: ‘Work has to move beyond the lived experience and sharing of stories towards a deeper academic level linked to knowledge structures and critical theory. The use of language, terminology and phrase needs to be critically interrogated and understood from this premise.’
 
Another school document contained in a newsletter sent to the school community observed that ‘…white supremacy is ever present in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value, morality, goodness, and humanity to the white group while casting people and communities of colour as worthless (worth less), immoral, bad, and inhuman and "undeserving." Drawing from critical race theory, the term "white supremacy" also refers to a political or socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantage and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not, both at a collective and an individual level.’
 
There is no redemption under CRT: the only way that white students can overcome their “white supremacy” stigma is to submit to conceding “their” ancestral culpability, irrespective of the fact that the child is in no way culpable.
 
The consequences are the opposite of what one would think DEI should achieve: race relations deteriorate, white students stop asking questions in class in case they say “the wrong thing”, and teachers lose authority over their students because they are often called out for something they say. Once a teacher has lost authority, her effectiveness diminishes.
But the most disturbing aspect of CRT is that it has a political end goal: the upending of society for the establishment of a socialist utopia. CRT is a political ideology and it is completely inappropriate to indoctrinate school children into a particular political philosophy. Schools can teach about ideologies such as CRT, fascism, marxism, capitalism, liberalism and so on, but they are not entitled to educate through the practice of CRT.
The IRR has no problem in principle with teaching about how systemic racism may manifest in society, but we are concerned about how it is taught. When viewed through the lens of CRT, it does involve shaming, alienating, and dividing, based on its core claims.
 
Parents who would like to see their children learn tolerance, non-racism and respect for people's innate qualities, are horrified at what they see children being exposed to and the damage that it can do. 
 
Of course children must learn about colonialism and apartheid and the terrible deprivations that resulted. A knowledge and understanding of history informs how we respond to the present and plan our future. 
Nobody at the IRR would ever claim, or has ever claimed, teaching about race and racism, slavery and white supremacy constitutes critical race theory – because it doesn’t. Jansen says that ‘some’ schools teach these things. The IRR would certainly advocate for all schools to teach these topics. The question is how they are taught, not whether they are taught.
Judging people by the colour of their skin is to judge people by an innate, immutable characteristic that says nothing about the human being and over which the individual has no control. 
CRT is being taught widely in America and to a lesser extent in South Africa. It is a backlash to it by parents in America that Prof. Jansen dismissively refers to as ‘reactionary lies of zealots’. 
He runs the risk, here, of being as guilty as American social justice activists, who label anybody disagreeing with them as ‘right-wingers’ in the hope that their concerns are more easily dismissed. 
 
 It has also become a feature of those that support CRT to deny that it is being taught; one has to wonder why. It doesn’t matter whether one calls it “CRT”, “DEI” or “transformation” if what is being taught is what we refer to as CRT.
Perhaps if schools took a fraction of what they are paying diversity consultants, they could make a real difference when it comes to social justice by reinvesting that money into bursary schemes, teacher training and other meaningful educational objectives.
 
As for what happens in the classroom, children should be taught history in all its glory and shame, and they should be taught to respect each other for who they are not what they look like.  

How to ruin a school

John van den Berg, a parent and husband to a teacher, writes on the capitulation by St. Mary's DSG (Pretoria) to racial witch hunting

Sections of the commentariat have done much recently to expose the ‘woke’ assault on our schools and warn of its consequences. I consider these exposés to be an essential part of the campaign to save our schools from woke-capture, but all the ones I have read have come from parties outside the affected school communities, whose observations therefore are made at a personal distance. This article provides what I think is missing: an account from the inside. It is a parent’s story.

In mid-2020 the country's high school sector was convulsed by a series of self-styled 'anti-racism' protests. These started at a school in the Western Cape, before spreading quickly across the country, gaining firm traction in a subset of the country's elite schools, with private girl’s schools in particular, the hardest hit.

Passions were undoubtedly ignited by the George Floyd killing in the US and the emergence of BLM, and many of the complaints and allegations that fuelled these protests were the same, but no two schools dealt with the challenge in the same way. Some were able to steer their ships through the storm relatively unscathed, others sadly, ran theirs aground.

If there is one school in this spectrum that stands as a salutary example of what not to do, it is St. Mary’s DSG, Pretoria. Its sad story is in essence one of weak leadership leading to institutional self-harm and it bears recounting as a warning to others. But it is also an intensely personal story, for my wife was a former teacher, and my daughter a former learner, at the school, and they were pulled into the vortex.

In the build up to a much-publicised protest which took place on 25 June 2020 and which was seen as important enough to make the news on eNCA, the school's teachers had been subjected to a slanderous naming-and-shaming social media campaign, replete with obscenities (such as "f_ _ k Mrs _ _ _"), body-shaming and threats, accusations characterised by half-truths, fact-twisting and in some cases complete fabrications, and calls for the dismissal and ‘blacklisting’ of staff. Attempts were even made to entrap staff.

The school had been alerted to what was taking place in the surrounding social media space, and who the culprits were, but its response was not to come to the aid of its beleaguered staff, but rather to acquiesce to the demands of the 'mob'[i] and initiate a witch-hunt against them.

Staff were hastily suspended and expensive teams of lawyers brought in to investigate. No stone was left unturned in the hunt for acts of discrimination. Social media sites were trawled and anonymous postings against staff carefully collected and collated. This was done not for the purpose of punishing those responsible for these actionable postings, but rather to use as evidence in the prosecution of the school's teachers.

This exercise cost DSG millions but produced in the end not a single witch, for at its conclusion, no member of staff was found to have committed any act of racial discrimination of any sort. In fact, in the case of only one staff member did the investigating advocate, who certainly didn't err on the side of generosity to the teachers, think a formal disciplinary was warranted. But the employer's case in this single disciplinary was flimsy and collapsed almost immediately because no witnesses could be found to substantiate the charge of discrimination. In an institution apparently so riven with the scourge of racism, one might have expected a slew of guilty verdicts.

But what was the human cost of all this? One can write of the reputational damage, the shattered morale of teachers and the fear each had they might be the next one hauled before The Inquisition, and so on, but numbers best illustrate the point.

Since the protest 18 months ago, more than 20 high school staff have either left DSG or given notice to do so, this from a high school staff establishment of less than 40. Of those that have abandoned the school, some have left teaching altogether, while others have taken up positions at other schools. As an aside, I'm told that the vacancies page of the ISASA website is a favourite port of call for DSG’s teachers[ii].

If the school was worried by the loss of so many teachers, then it certainly didn’t show, for they appear to have traded a scarce-skills senior mathematics teaching post (and possibly other teaching posts too) for the establishment of two executive level ‘Transformation and Diversity’ positions. A clear indication of where DSG’s new priorities lie.

The school was, however, guilty of another arguably more egregious act of wrongdoing: one of omission. It failed to protect those learners who had become the target of bullying for having failed to show sufficient enthusiasm for the protest cause.

These learners were mainly white, but by no means exclusively so. My daughter was one such victim. She left the school before the end of her grade 11 year, after having been allowed to write her end of term exams in a separate venue (this fact alone should have signalled to the school that something terrible was amiss) leaving behind an academic scholarship and staff remission bursary.

Her plight was far from the worst, however. In one instance, the father of a white learner who had been the target of the most appalling bullying, was asked by the school management to collect his daughter from the school premises because her safety could no longer be guaranteed. (This father had, over a period of several weeks prior to this, written letters to the school imploring them to act against those responsible for the bullying of his daughter. His pleas fell on deaf ears.)

This was an extraordinary admission for the school to have made. It seemed not to have occurred to them that safeguarding children entrusted to their care, was actually a responsibility of theirs, and an important one too.

Despite bullying being a Level-4 offence (this is the most serious category of offence in terms of the DSG School Code of Conduct) and a mountain of utterly compelling evidence of the bullying of learners and the slander of staff being given to the school, chapter and verse, to the best of my knowledge, not a single learner has appeared before a disciplinary to answer for their conduct arising from the shameful events of 2020.

The consequence of all this has been a 20% reduction in the high school intake, and a steady stream of learners leaving the school. 

An irony in this is that DSG, like so many other of our elite schools, parrots the mantra of seeking 'diversity and inclusion', but its recent actions have seen the school actually becoming less, rather than more, diverse.

One can write that many of those leaving were high achievers that would have done the school proud, but again numbers best illustrate the point. In the recently announced IEB matric results, 56 distinctions were earned by nine[iii] girls who left DSG in the aftermath of the 2020 protests. It is telling too that they all left in their grade 11 year. Ordinarily, changing schools a year before one's matric is ill-advised and these girls would surely have stuck it out, had they not found things intolerable.

The DSG matric class of 2021 would have been a bumper year. Could have been, should have been, but wasn't.

Since these figures are silent on the loss of learners in lower grades, one wonders what the 2022 matric results and beyond will be like.

There are two salutary lessons to be learnt from all this.

The first is that a school must back its teachers for they are the institution's most precious resource. Good teachers lost are not easily replaced. In cases where learner complaints against teachers are made, the common-sense principle of audi alteram partem should be applied right at the start of an investigation before consideration is given to the initiation of any formal proceedings.

Had DSG done this, almost all of the charges levelled against the teachers would have been swiftly refuted and matters laid to rest in a matter of minutes. Much anguish and reputational injury could have been avoided.

The second lesson is that school managements need to apply their codes of conduct consistently and without fear or favour. The modicum of moral fortitude that this requires was sadly absent in DSG’s case, and this failure has longer-term harmful consequences. Teachers now fear that if they admonish a learner, there is a chance the learner will take to social media and slander them in an act of reprisal, secure in the knowledge that such an act will go unpunished. This fear strips the teacher of real authority and destabilises the classroom.

The school acted with extraordinary haste in suspending its teachers. Such was the rush that many were served with notices of suspension over a weekend, and this was followed within 24 hours by a communique announcing the suspensions to the school community. This was no less than the mob demanded.

But this haste to suspend was not matched by an equal urgency to explain to the teachers what it was they were meant to have done wrong. The letters of suspension did invite the suspendees to challenge their suspensions within a four-day period, but it’s hard to challenge a suspension when you haven’t been told what the reasons for it are. The suspended staff had to wait seven very anxious weeks before any allegations were actually put to them.

But the school somehow lost all enthusiasm when it came to disciplining miscreant learners, even when these learners had been recommended for disciplinary action by the independent firm of lawyers employed by DSG with the express brief of investigating and making such recommendations. One must ask why?

The answer can be found in a quite shocking admission made by the Chair of the School Governing Body in a meeting with staff in September 2020, held soon after the suspended teachers had returned to work. Below are his exact words:

"With regards to the fact that the investigations into staff had to be finished before the disciplinary actions [against learners] was taken, it was not an easy decision for the Governors to make, it is a political thing rather than a strategic thing, the way I see it. Because you must remember teachers that this crisis has got racial undertones and the sad thing that I was confronted with was that when it comes to cyber misconduct the learners implicated, I think all of them are black, and we have black parents sitting on our shoulders trying to see what we do next …”

Later on the Chairman opines with reference to the aforementioned black parents that they were:

“… influential, loud and well-organised.”

This frank but craven admission requires no explanation.

One of the protest demands was for the compulsory teaching of ‘White Privilege’ so that this oppressive and apparently pervasive culture could be outed and then expunged from the school. One wonders, however, how the above utterances are to be explained through the paradigm of White Privilege.

In its quest to find acts of racial discrimination, as in the differential treatment of people based on their race, perhaps the Governing Body needed to look a little closer to home.

Any hopes entertained by the five returning suspendees (all had been cleared of the allegations made against them[iv]) that a return to normality was possible with reputations intact, were extinguished by the following Instagram posting which greeted their return to the workplace:

“Today we received a letter from the school that will be posted soon.

The school has decided to allow the racist, xenophobic and homophobic teachers back into office from tomorrow onwards.

No justice has been served for the girls in our school.”

The school management was aware of this posting and who the learner was who wrote it, but took no action.

What of the future?

The attempts that I and many others made over a long period of time to get DSG to acknowledge that it had done the wrong thing and to change course, were unsuccessful. And spectacularly so, for even if a public admission of wrongdoing on their part, the issuance of apologies or just an expression of regret, was too much to ask for, one might have expected the school leadership to at least want the painful and shameful events of 2020 to quietly recede into the past.

Not so it seems, for on 25 June 2021, DSG chose to celebrate the occasion of the first anniversary of the 2020 protest with a special ceremony and the release of a commemorative video. Comparisons were even drawn between the Soweto youth of `76 who risked their lives standing up against the might of the Apartheid state, and brave girls calling out their school and its teachers for their (as it turns out phantom) racism, homophobia and xenophobia. The school had heard their calls, praised them for their heroism, apologised for the hurt caused, and set course for a new nirvana.

This marked the point at which my wife left DSG, a school she had loyally served for nearly ten years. She was not alone of course, and like many others now teaches at another institution.

A common understanding of fairness and compassion seems unable to intrude upon this stubborn narrative. Perhaps in the end cold numbers will.

John van den Berg is an academic at a South African university, but writes in his personal capacity. St Mary’s DSG Pretoria is an elite private school in the province of Gauteng South Africa.

 Footnotes:


[i] In July 2020 DSG employed, for a brief period, the services of an advocate widely recognised as the expert in social media abuse and cyber bullying. In an online session, intended to offer legal advice to staff, she used the word 'mob' to describe those responsible for the assault against the school and its teaching establishment. She also said that the hostility directed at the institution was the worst she had ever seen.

[ii] In 2021 an anonymous survey was conducted amongst members of the school community. The survey contained a host of questions, but some were directed at teachers specifically. One such question asked whether they had applied for a teaching position at another school. The number of teachers who answered this question in the affirmative is not known because the school management refused to make available to staff the survey results.

[iii] This data I got from a quick survey amongst my daughter's friends and school acquaintances, but these numbers are a lower bound on the actual figures.

[iv] These were the exact words used by the School Board of Governors in a communique sent to the school community at the end of September 2020 reporting on, amongst other things, the outcome of its investigation of the suspended staff.

When teaching becomes impossible ...

This article was a comment in response to the article by John van den Berg, a parent and husband to a teacher, who wrote on on the capitulation by St. Mary's DSG (Pretoria) to racial witch hunting which resulted from the implementation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity training at the school. Both articles were published on Politicsweb. Prof. Van den Berg's article can be found on this book.

I read with great sadness the article How to ruin a school, Politicsweb 01 March 2020.

There have been increasing instances – previously in private schools, but now also in government schools – of claims of racism being made by pupils against fellow pupils and teachers in the name of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), or what we term the acceptance of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

This is a phenomenon that was imported from the United States into academia over decades and which really came to public attention in South Africa as a result of the RhodesMustFall/FeesMustFall protests from 2015.

The praxis of CRT started to find its way into the private sector through the adoption of policies by the Independent Schools Association of South Africa.

It is largely a pernicious ideology which is fundamentally based on the concept that blacks (and minorities in general) are victims, whites are oppressors, and to solve the problem means upending the political system and seeking communism as a means of reordering society.

What you find to a greater or lesser extent in schools where diversity programmes become a feature is that they are preceded by accusations of racism by groups of pupils, often online, and against both fellow pupils and teachers.

The author of How to ruin a school, Prof. John van den Berg, points out the cowardice and pandering to the parents of the accusing pupils. One has some level of sympathy with management because one wrong step and the accusations are then levelled at management and their jobs come under threat. So there become two “mobs” – pupils and their parents.

However, there is no alternative to it; management and the school governing bodies must have the knowledge of what they’re facing and the courage to deal with it in terms of appropriate disciplinary and grievance procedures.

The sort of behaviour by the pupils in accusing others of racism is common and intensely destructive. Such pupils act individually and as a mob. And their weapon of choice is social media. It is well known that the behaviour that teenage girls are most likely to have recourse to cause havoc is bullying. Boys tend to use physical violence. Social media turns a recourse to bullying into a process akin to the Inquisition.

The St. Mary’s example highlights these egregious tactics and the weak response to them: social media accusations; the suspension of teachers without their knowing the charge (an unfair labour practice in itself); nothing to prove against the teachers but they have already had their authority undermined to the extent that they can’t teach effectively ,and resign; pupils who have falsely been accused or who just hate the new “social justice” atmosphere leave the school; and the school loses its reputation.

Probably the most disastrous action the school did not take was to charge and discipline the girls identified as having spread the libels or made accusations. Their behaviour runs the gamut from racism to bullying to undermining authority. Experience shows that the only way to overcome this destructive behaviour is through the exercise of the legitimate power of management to implement the disciplinary rules that underpin the effective running of a school.

It was for this reason that the Institute of Race Relations set up a resource website on CRT in schools to help equip parents and teachers to deal with these phenomena.

The major problem for the accused teachers and pupils, their parents, management and SGB is that the accusers are black as are their parents. This is not a racist allegation; it is a fact and a fact borne out by this case. The very aim of CRT and DEI is to empower black children to disempower white children (and teachers). This generally leads to opposing white and black parents feeling helpless.

There is no avoiding the fact that, unless the adults support CRT, they must be prepared to act together to take this on; they must put pressure on school management; they must insist that discipline is fairly and uniformly applied.

The final and most destructive consequence is the undermining of the authority of teachers. Once teachers lose their authority, teaching becomes impossible. Schools only succeed in their aims if the teachers, the adults, have authority over the pupils.

We all know that teenagers are still children; their hormonal development makes them irrational and condescending of “ignorant” adults while they still have a huge amount to learn and little practical experience to call upon. Of course teachers are not entitled to be racist or breach codes of conduct themselves, but schools have ways to appropriately deal with misconduct.

Sara Gon is head of strategic engagement at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR)

[Photo: Getty Images]

Anti-racism in schools: a new religion

Caiden Lang discusses what happens when students are presented with religious beliefs masquerading as facts? What happens when they can’t tell the difference? He exams the way Critical Race Theory has become the new belief system in schools.

When I was a teacher, one of my students mentioned that his geography teacher had told his class that the textbook was wrong about the world being 4.5 billion years old. How could it be that old if the Bible said it was 6 000 years old?

I confronted the teacher, and told him I thought what he did was unethical. At first, he denied saying what I’d be told he’d said, but I pressed him and he admitted it. Why hide the truth from his students? It would be unethical of him not to correct falsehoods when they appeared in the textbook.

Nothing I could have said would have shaken his conviction.

I’m sure that some students in that classroom would have dismissed the teacher’s claims because they understood the difference between faith and fact. But what happens when students are presented with religious beliefs masquerading as facts, and moral facts at that? What happens when they can’t tell the difference?

On another occasion, I met with the head of a school diversity committee to question the school’s official position that ‘saying that you don’t see colour’ is a racist thing to say. We had a lively and enjoyable discussion in which I exhausted the philosophical case for colour-blindness. But the teacher did not budge. I thought I’d try a different tack, and asked whether including such a clause in a school policy might deprive students of having a worthwhile discussion like the one we were having. ‘Aren’t discussions like these good for honing critical thinking skills?’ The teacher dodged the question and played her trump card: ‘But, Caiden, the boys feel that saying you don’t see colour is racist.’ She looked at me as though waiting for me to finally realise that all bachelors are indeed unmarried men.

Leaving aside the fact that feeling a certain way does not make something true a priori, I suspect that the only reason the boys (all one thousand or so of them, apparently?) feel that way is because they have been ideologically groomed to feel that way by adults who have a religious conviction that they should feel that way. That it is moral. That it is the correct thing to feel.

Many have argued, most notably John McWhorter in his book Woke Racism, that anti-racist ideology is a religion. He goes so far as to say:

‘With Third Wave Antiracism we are witnessing the birth of a new religion, just as the Romans witnessed the birth of Christianity.’

Functions like a religion

Whether or not you agree with McWhorter that anti-racism is a religion, as I do, I think one should concede that, at the very least, it functions like religion and when it comes to how this affects students, it is a distinction without a difference.

Something that most religions have in common is an explanation for the origin of evil. Once the source of evil has been identified the goal is quite clear. Rid the world of that evil and restore the world to its original condition.

According to anti-racist theology, the world once existed in a pre-hierarchical and peaceful State of Nature. The Garden of Eden. That is until The Fall.

Following the murder of George Floyd, an American activist called Tamika Mallory made a speech at a Black Lives Matter rally. At one point in her speech, she defends looting by arguing that it is a form of redress for past wrongs inflicted on non-white people by white Americans. She addresses the latter directly: 

“Looting is what you do. We [non-whites] learned it from you. We learned violence from you! We learned violence from you! The violence was what we learned from you!”

In 2016, Julius Malema, speaking after the postponement of a court case against him, said the following: ‘… they [Europeans] found peaceful Africans here [South Africa]. They killed them. They slaughtered them like animals.’

Implicit in Mallory’s statement and explicit in Malema’s is the idea that non-white communities enjoyed a peaceful and harmonious existence before whites arrived on their shores. Clearly the idea is factually false. It is something that the author Shelby Steele might call ‘the poetic truth’. A capital ‘T’ Truth that could only be uttered and cheered for in the sense that you believe it on faith.

These two examples call for something extreme (violence) and I am not insinuating that all those who believe in anti-racism ideology would take those measures. But this idea that whites ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and began to use violence, language, and institutions to amass power over other groups and thus deliver oppression unto the world, lies at the heart of anti-racist ideology.

Don’t even know they are doing it

An important part of this story is that even though it might seem that non-white people are no longer oppressed, in reality, whites have just become more adept at hiding it. They have been able to do so using tools like the rule of law; property rights; capitalism; individualism; freedom of speech; logic; and the scientific method. Most of the time they don’t even know they are doing it.

If you are truly anti-racist it is not enough to know these things, you need to feel them. You need to understand that all of those things associated with ‘whiteness’ are necessarily oppressive.

It takes special insight into the workings of the world to know when these aspects of ‘whiteness’ appear. Apparently, diversity trainers have that insight. They have a ‘critical consciousness’ and they are hell-bent on teaching schoolchildren to become pawns in their fantasy, their little army of acolytes, and get paid handsomely to do it.

All of a sudden, we find ourselves in a situation where school documents are redefining racism and affirming the idea that the world is in a dualistic struggle between oppressed and oppressor, not on some heavenly stage but right there on the playground and at the sandwich table in the quad.

This is the situation many high school students are facing when it comes to social justice. They are learning the tenets of a new religion and being told to act on them for the good of mankind. They are being rewarded for their compliance. They are being told that if they believe and do certain things they will be on the right side of history or that they are good ancestors.

High school is a weird time in many ways. Your hormones are raging, you are forming an identity, seeking affirmation, dealing with peer pressure and building a worldview. Teenagers are sitting ducks for indoctrination, especially when you consider the power dynamics at play between students and teachers. Most of the time, students just accept what they are told. For a teacher or diversity consultant to teach the tenets of anti-racism ideology as factually true and morally imperative to act upon is unethical and they should know better. But they don’t, because they have a religious conviction. They are hacking through the wilderness believing they are forging a path to the Garden of Eden. They will get lost because there is no such place.

Theology

The theology of social justice of which anti-racism is a part, has been refined through thinkers like Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx to the Frankfurt School, thereafter gaining momentum with the French postmodernists who emphasised the link between power and language, and then finally onto the American critical theorists where it was crystalised using identity markers like race, gender and sexuality as they relate to the broader issue of social inequity.

But students do not know this. They are being presented with a watered-down version that looks like this: ‘To love capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism.’

So says Ibram X. Kendi in How to Be an Antiracist – a standard social justice resource in schools.

It is not an anomaly that in the minutes of a Transformation, Diversity, and Inclusivity Task Team committee meeting, the deputy head girl of a KZN school stated that ‘colour-blindness as a notion is not helpful. It promotes individualism and meritocracy’.

This student would seem to prefer collectivism and socialism. She does not understand what she is talking about. The idea has been planted in her head by diversity consultants and activist teachers, and it is completely in line with anti-racist theology.

Most destructive, in my opinion, is that students are being taught to engage emotional reasoning when it comes to social justice. This is a recipe for disaster. If crying racism gets you the attention, sympathy and acclaim that it currently seems to do, a good adaptive strategy would be to lean into it (if you’re lucky, the EFF might pitch up at your school and your struggle might be on tomorrow’s News24 page)

Take the Bishops’ matric class of 2020. They demanded that their school create ‘safe spaces’ and ‘forums’ for vulnerable and minority groups to ‘seek refuge from the harms Bishops confronts them with’ and categorically stated that ‘Under no circumstances should white people enter POC [people of colour] safe spaces, and non-LGBTQI+ people should not be allowed in queer safe spaces [sic].’

Quite ridiculous

The idea that walking around a school like Bishops as a non-white person is to be harmed is quite ridiculous. But if thinking it places you on the right side of history and makes you seem like a freedom fighter trying to dismantle oppression, it won’t be long before you really do feel harmed and if you feel harmed, according to the logic of modern social justice, you are harmed. To deny this is to deny lived experience of oppression. To deny this is blasphemy.

This way of thinking is antithetical to human flourishing yet this higher reasoning is filtering down from the universities and being preached from pulpits at school conferences and packaged as ‘best practice’ by, perhaps not quite high priests of anti-racism, but deacons in the church at the very least.

John McWhorter sums up the worldview:

“Battling power relations and their discriminatory effects must be the central focus of all human endeavor, be it intellectual, moral, civic, or artistic. Those who resist this focus, or even evidence insufficient adherence to it, must be sharply condemned, deprived of influence, and ostracised.”

We are told that believing this means that you are against racism. But it is so obviously more than that.

We shouldn’t underestimate the fervency of the belief that the origin of racial injustice can be laid solely at the feet of those who ate the fruit in some mythic past and the lengths one might go to to see it regurgitated.

 [Image: https://pixabay.com/vectors/brain-gears-cogs-machine-think-4177256/]

 

Parents just get in the way of social justice warriors

Social justice warrior teachers regard parents with condescension regarding the children as theirs to inculcate with Critical Race Theory or 'Diversity Equity and Inclusion'. Sara Gon looks at this issue and features two of the Diversity Trainers that operate in this field and what they have to say.

An industry of consultants has grown to help schools to implement so disputatious a position in the form of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

As an expression of social justice, CRT is seemingly attractive. Surely no parent would not want their children not to learn to achieve such noble goals?

The problem is that the fundamental thesis behind CRT (which evolved in America) is the identification of blacks as perpetual victims of racism and whites as perpetual perpetrators.

Consequently, black children must see themselves as perpetual victims even if they aren’t, and white children must see themselves as oppressors of blacks, not because of their thoughts or deeds, but on the actions of preceding generations of whites.

This credo is unforgiving of whites irrespective of what they have done (or not done) and racism is implicit in tarring every white child with the same brush. The child’s worth becomes the determining factor of the child; a factor based solely on skin colour. No regard is had for background, history, personality, experience or beliefs.

Children are unlikely to have the intellectual heft or confidence to challenge the social justice message. So quiescence becomes acquiescence.

Harmonious relationships in society can best be achieved through a thorough understanding by groups of one another; a one-way process, however, will create resentment and differences will become pronounced.

Us-and-them obsession

The us-and-them obsession is likely to cause children, in an attempt to avoid any possible accusation of being racists, to withdraw into their racial categories.

Some parents have experienced the erosion of religious education in faith-based schools, which is supposed to be the foundation upon which that schooling is based. DEI becomes the new faith.

CRT has been extended to cover other minority groups based on sexual orientation, gender identity and selected religions. Accusations of ‘homophobia’ and ‘transphobia’ are made frequently at schools even if they are extremely rare or non-existent.

Most perniciously, CRT’s ultimate goal is to destroy the existing ‘capitalist’ system in order to achieve a socialist nirvana.

This is a matter of political belief and parents do not wish the political education of their children to be outsourced to strangers whose political philosophy differs fundamentally from theirs.

Let’s look at two of the consultants to this cause. Asanda Ngoasheng is a ‘Diversity Trainer, Organisation Development Expert, Media and Communications Consultant, Academic’ (LinkedIn).

Ms Ngoasheng is a race and gender justice scholar, activist, diversity trainer, political analyst and media and communications consultant. Her research interests include ‘race, gender, class and intersectionality in South Africa; the politics of identity; decolonising pedagogy after Rhodes Must Fall, as well as media transformation and media leadership’.

Ms Ngoasheng says she is trusted by clients to provide guidance, bring teams together and develop organisations where everyone feels they belong, are valued and accepted for who they are. However, parents don’t appear to be necessary to this process; in fact they may be a hinderance.

‘Compulsory camp’

The parents of Westerford High School in Cape Town should perhaps be concerned. According to a notice to parents dated 22 February 2022, all the Grade 8s will be taken ‘away on a compulsory camp to Rocklands, Simons Town from Wednesday 23 March to Friday 24 March’.

The main reason for the camp ‘is to educate our pupils on diversity and how it relates to them personally as well as their roles in society. We feel that the activities will be invaluable to your children as they negotiate their way as citizens in South Africa and with all its people’.  

Parents should heed some of Ms Ngoasheng’s words about and attitudes to the very parents whose school fees go to her appointment as the shaper of their children’s minds.

In an article on the EWN website of five months ago, entitled ‘Children are growing impatient with adults’ complacency with racism’, it was reported that ‘Asanda Ngoasheng explained (that) children are more likely to challenge their conservative parents if they know more. She says people who think critical race theory brainwashes children couldn’t be more wrong’.

‘Even the kids who hold the most shocking views very quickly are able to see the wrong in what they say when you explain it to them in child-appropriate language. People get scared and say “why are you teaching my children this?”, but children already know. They see these things and they observe diversity.’

‘Challenge their parents’

‘Sometimes home is good, but society is bad. You think about a South African child who sees a nanny and people in service who are all black and they internalise the idea that black people are for service. When I challenge that socialisation as we work through the curriculum I find that children are malleable and they are willing to challenge their parents on these issues.’

In a feature on Ngoasheng on News24 on 20 October 2016 on #FeesMustFall, Ngoasheng said: ‘Even since the #FeesMustFall protests started various methods of protest have been used and I have been fielding questions from many friends who ask – how can I support #FeesMustFall in all its incarnations including the acts of violence? My answer comes has been a surprise to many of them. I support the cause of free education because people have been patient for more than 30 years and we can’t let another generation of youth waste away under the argument that we can’t afford free education.’

Ms Ngoasheng says children are more knowledgable than their parents. ‘People get scared and say “why are you teaching my children this?”, but children already know’, is deeply concerning. She clearly sees it as her mission to ostracise children from their parents for ‘wrong thinking’.

Most chilling of all, however, is her saying: ‘I find that children are malleable and they are willing to challenge their parents on these issues’. The name of the game is clearly manipulation to drive a wedge between them and their supposedly ignorant parents.

Her disparaging consideration of parents as a potential bar to enlightenment and a force for ignorance has a very Leninist tone.

According to the Daily Vox (11 February 2021), ‘For the future, Ngoasheng hopes to work with the department of basic education to develop a comprehensive life orientation curriculum that includes diversity and social justice.’

‘Not only at school….’

In 2020 the matriculants of Rustenburg Girls’ High School made the following astonishing demand:

‘We demand for parents of students to engage in compulsory dialogues in order to ensure transformation is happening not only at school but at home. Parents wishing to send their children to this school should understand that they are subscribing to a culture of equality and change.’

The response from the school:

‘As far as compulsory dialogues for parents: We have had evenings for parents to engage (past pupils speaking at Matric and New parent evenings, a book launch for Dylan Wray and Roy Hellenberg, Lovelyn Nwadeyi and the production of My Father’s Coat a history of South Africa), sadly these they were poorly attended. Parents have their own social responsibility to inform and educate themselves and while we will continue to provide these opportunities for engagement they are ultimately accountable for their own growth. We are, however, looking into ways to ensure this happens more intentionally. We will include this as part of the Grade 8 parent orientation from next year.’

Lovelyn Nwadeyi is Rustenburg’s consultant.

CRT in all its manifestations is a political ideology. It is not for schools and third party consultants to impose their ideologies upon children, despite their parents’ views.

Parents pay for the education of their children and may not share the political ideology of consultants. Parents have different ideological views. Parents may oppose, for very good reason, using CRT to deal with the issues of race.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin said: ‘Give me a child for the first five years of his life and he will be mine forever.’

Maybe it starts with a camp at Rocklands.

School capture: a peek behind the curtain

Caiden Lang looks behind some of the people and processes at schools that have introduced CRT to the pupils. Some are reluctant to implement CRT and some are fanatically imposing their beliefs.

“Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.”

Mao Tse Tung in “Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society” (March 1926), Selected Works, Vol. I.

A little while ago I had a conversation with the head of transformation at a top school in Gauteng. I said that I was from the Institute of Race Relations and we chatted amicably for a while. That was until I asked her whether the school was using a book called Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad to inform some of their ideas about social justice – a book that among other things requires white children to confess to all of their racist thoughts, and if they do not this is taken to mean that they are racist. She said that they weren’t and wanted to know where I heard that from. I told her that I had read it in the minutes of a transformation committee meeting that she chaired and that the document was on the school website. She backtracked a little and said that they were not using the whole book, merely employing some of the ideas contained in it. 

The following day, the document had disappeared from the website. I was not at all surprised by this or the attempted denial. 

I have been investigating, alongside some colleagues, what we have come to refer to as ‘school capture’. In the course of the investigation I have encountered such behaviour more than once. It can be frustrating, but it makes sense when you think about it from the point of view of an ideologue who considers those who disagree as roadblocks on the path to a grand and equitable future. 

‘School capture’ describes the ideological takeover of a school, from hiring practices to curriculum design to discipline, by a theory of social justice informed by the foundational beliefs of critical theories, most commonly critical race theory (CRT) and gender theory. 

CRT views race through a Marxist lens and requires converts to believe the following:

Society is just when institutions are demographically representative because, sans racism, this is what is a natural and just outcome. Among the factors standing in the way of this utopian ideal is liberalism, the core beliefs of which were designed by whites (and males, heterosexuals, cis-gendered and so on) to oppress others. Ideas such as non-racialism, equality under the law and freedom of expression all contribute to this system of oppression, even if they nominally promise citizenship, inclusion and participation in society. 

Oppression of non-whites is thought to be ubiquitous yet difficult to notice because it has become normalised throughout the western world. It is the job of those who have the special insight required to notice this, to teach others to notice it too and work together to dismantle the systems that perpetuate it. 

One group that possesses this insight by the bucketload are the diversity, equity and inclusion consultants and they are being welcomed by schools around the country. Shake an illiberal school policy and a list of racism allegations, and at least one of them will fall out. The kicker is that the consultants profit financially from selling their ideology. That is not to say that they are doing it for the money. They believe in their cause, just like the pastor of a megachurch who uses his congregation’s tithes to buy himself a jet. 

I have yet to come across a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant whose contribution has had an objective or observable net benefit for a school. Once they are allowed time with the students and teachers, segregated safe spaces appear; words and ideas are banned despite constitutional protection; students make false allegations against their peers and teachers, who withdraw and change the way they teach, choosing not to have conversations that may trigger offence; and students become fragile and relish the opportunity to advertise their victimhood and virtue.

Sooner or later, as social cohesion breaks down the school decides to fix it by granting the transformation committee an extraordinary amount of control over the running of the school, including designing and implementing a social justice curriculum. And as I have experienced, the committees, emboldened by the teachings of the consultants, are willing to bend the truth in the face of criticism. They know that what they are doing is radical and revolutionary, and that most parents would be outraged if they knew the truth of what was being taught to their children. 

Given this, why are schools hiring consultants? 

How the magic trick is done

About a year and a half ago I phoned a top private school, introduced myself and asked the receptionist if it would be possible for me to speak to somebody involved in transformation. I barely had time to finish my sentence before the lady, in what I interpreted to be a slightly panicked voice, assured me that the school was ‘doing the work’. She began listing some of what ‘the work’ entailed. We’re providing mandatory Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training workshops; we’ve formed a Transformation Task Team; we’re decolonising the curriculum; we’re updating our codes of conduct and hiring practices. It came across as though she was reading a script. She was nervous about something.

The school had recently been accused of a few flavours of racism during the #yousilenceweamplify social media campaign that began in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The campaign was started by students at Herschel Girls’ School and quickly spread to other schools, garnering a lot of media attention. Thousands of accusations were made across the country, some anonymous and some not, some specific and some general, and even some with identical phraseology.

Numerous media outlets and political parties called for transformation efforts to be ramped up; the former looking for clicks, the latter looking to advance a race nationalist agenda and, as we all know, willing to toss aside the constitution to achieve it.

Enter the DEI consultants. They drafted open letters, were featured on podcasts and were interviewed on primetime news networks. They all said the same thing: formerly white schools were riddled with racism. More than that, however, they were bastions of colonialism and would continue to oppress black bodies unless something fundamental – radical, in the true sense of the term – was done. Naturally, hiring them to perform the cleansing was touted as the way forward. 

Like most schools caught up in the scandal, the school management issued a statement declaring support for Black Lives Matter, accepted full responsibility for its role in a system of white supremacy, and promised to ‘do the work’. 

Following the school’s mea culpa, a transformation committee was set up to administer the school’s new transformation agenda, modelled on the Independent Schools’ Association of Southern Africa’s (ISASA) ‘Guide to Effective School Management and Diversity Toolkit’. 

The principal had little choice but to do these things. Politically connected parents were demanding the school change its hiring practices to ensure greater diversity, in many cases, at the expense of merit. Perhaps most importantly, pupils were demanding to have time set aside for conversations dedicated to topics like transgenderism, microaggressions, implicit bias, and whiteness. The principal supported the idea but soon realised, along with her colleagues, that holding such conversations with woke teenagers is difficult and can land you in a lot of trouble. People trained to teach maths or geography are ill-prepared to do so. So, she did what other schools were doing and what had been recommended by ISASA. That is, she hired a diversity consultant to teach the teachers how to have such conversations and to help plaster the cracks that were beginning to appear between pupils and teachers who held differing opinions on controversial topics to do with race and gender. 

As is the case with every diversity consultant who takes on a school as a client, she was fully on board with the tenets of critical race theory, gender theory, and postcolonial theory. There is no room for dissent in the face of the certainties these ideas embody. Such moral superiority is part and parcel of theories like these. 

Little wonder that following the diversity workshops, racial tensions at the school worsened; expressing liberal ideas like colour-blindness, individuality and meritocracy are discouraged in the name of inclusion, teachers are banned from  assuming the gender of their pupils at their all-girl’s school, and the headmistress is having to deal with an increasing number of allegedly racist incidents. With more racism will come a greater need for transformation and the cycle will repeat itself. As, inevitably, will the imperative of the consultant’s services.

The reason I bring this story up is that I have spoken to many people who say things like ‘These schools are stupid, why do they believe this nonsense?’ or ‘If I was a school principal, I’d never hire a diversity consultant’. I understand the temptation to think these things, and I have thought them, too. But that was before hearing the panic in the receptionist’s voice when I raised the issue of transformation and my subsequent meeting with the headmistress.

You see, the principal did not ‘believe this nonsense’, (neither do many others I have spoken to) which is the part I find most frightening. When we met, she expressed concern about what the diversity consultant was teaching her charges (as did most of her colleagues) and the resulting radicalisation of a number of her pupils and colleagues. 

Initially, she believed that she was doing the right thing. Later, she realised she may have made some wrong decisions, but by then the consultant had done her work and the transformation machine was gaining momentum.

The principal was no pushover. She was compassionate, smart, and not somebody I would ever like to disappoint. I could see why she had climbed the ranks and become headmistress. At any other time, she would have been presiding over a flourishing school. But this time she hired a diversity consultant. What was she to do once she realised her error? Stand up in assembly and espouse her liberal ideas of free speech and colour-blindness only to get branded a racist by a vocal minority of recently indoctrinated pupils? Face getting excommunicated by ISASA which explicitly condemns the colourblind ideal? Have to deal with the EFF at the gates, and find her name in a News24 article or her school’s in a tweet by Amnesty International? 

I don’t blame her for taking the path she did. I just think that she made the same mistake that many school leaders around the country have made, which is to underestimate the religious zeal of social justice activists and the enticingly simplistic ideology behind them. 

Always liberalism 

Liberal values in most of our top schools now sit upon pyres with flames licking at their feet. The fuel has been gathered over many years by organisations such as ISASA, the ANC, the EFF, and even overseas organisations like The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity in the US who have partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and whose fellows now occupy prominent places in media, education and consulting spaces.

If these organisations are the fuel, the spark is lit by allegations of racism. This is an important moment for a school. They could either dowse the spark with liberalism or hire consultants, sit back and watch them fan the flames. 

Here is some practical advice for school management who find themselves having to deal with allegations against teachers.

Get all of the facts before taking any drastic measures like suspending teachers or issuing a public apology. Regard the teachers as innocent until proven guilty. The vast majority of high-profile racism allegations have been proven false. Issuing a public apology before the facts have been accounted for adds fuel to the fire. Also, if you do feel the need to apologise, make it specific. Do not apologise for ‘systemic racism’ or ‘a culture of whiteness’. This is social justice language and you tie yourself to that paradigm if you engage with it. 

You may come under a lot of scrutiny from the media, politicians and social media activists. That is part of their playbook. Ignore it, it will blow over eventually and your school will be stronger for it. 

Do not do what most elite schools have done and hire diversity consultants. Just this week, Brackenfell High School was cleared of all charges by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) regarding an alleged whites-only matric dance. Yet, according to this Times Live article:

‘In the wake of the incident, the school said it would fast-track the formation of a diversity committee and plan activities to improve pupil interactions across different backgrounds. Workshops facilitated by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation would also be held for the staff.’

This is a mistake, as the school will discover in the not-too-distant future.

In a Weekend Argus article from February, SAHRC Commissioner for Basic Education, advocate André Gaum, is quoted as saying: 

“We also want a Human Rights Commission-sanctioned social cohesion, sensitivity and diversity training programme that can be rolled out at all schools.”

Standing up to social justice bureaucracy will not be easy in the coming years. It will take courage and integrity from school leaders, reasonable teachers, and concerned parents with help from principled organisations, to protect South Africa’s children from becoming the means to an end for a cabal of ideologues.  

Schools need to build honour codes centred on classically liberal values where esteem is granted for treating people as individual agents deserving of dignity and respect regardless of inherent differences; freedom of opinion is celebrated; non-racialism is upheld as is an understanding that life circumstances differ from person to person; pupils are taught that intentions do matter and that charity in this regard is a virtue, and; being offended by an idea you disagree with is normal but that in most cases you benefit from engaging with it. 

The schools that create such honour codes might be scrutinised in the short term but they are the ones that will have happy teachers of good quality and a generally cohesive and anti-fragile student body well-equipped to be productive members of South African society.

On another level: the dangers in Gender Theory

We discuss aspects of gender theory, trying to understand why the advocacy for this phenomenon is spearheaded by a tiny, yet vulgar and threatening group who are intent on dying on the hill of the fallacy that transgender women are biological women. The article also looks at the complex biology that accompanies being female, not necessarily a blessing.

We have written numerous articles about the implementation of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools in South Africa.

CRT is one consequence of the current social justice movement. It is usually presented as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI or, as I prefer, DIE) training. 

Dr James Lindsay, creator of the New Discourses website which aims to educate about the scourge of this industry, says that equity is a rebranding of socialism – an administered economy that makes outcomes equal. Diversity and Inclusion are tools used to install political officers (in the school context ‘consultants’) to censor and remove dissidents. ‘In other words, the Woke Marxist DEI industry is a racket designed to install commissars for its ideology.’

The principle is that blacks (and other chosen minority groups) are perpetual victims and whites are perpetual oppressors. In these circumstances, society has to be completely changed so that the power resides with the oppressed. In summary, it is ‘transformation’ through racism.

The indoctrination is commonly accompanied by bullying and condemnation if a child doesn’t share this method of creating a tolerant society. However, it is in reality a political movement the aim of which is to change the power dynamics to achieve a Marxist society.

You would be forgiven for thinking this indoctrination was inappropriate in schools, particularly because all the other political systems are not taught. It’s inappropriate because it teaches adherence to a belief system that many parents are opposed to.

Now Gender Theory, another branch of the social justice paradigm, is starting to be implemented in schools. This theory is altogether on a level of magnitude more fact-resistant, irrational, emotional and potentially damaging than race theory.

Three conditions

There are three conditions at issue here: ‘gender dysphoria’ is a condition in which an individual feels that they do not identify with their sex. A ‘transgender’ person is someone whose gender identity is different from their sex. A ‘gender non-conforming’ person is someone whose appearance or behaviour does not align with what one might expect from a member of their sex.

Transitioning can be done in one of two ways. ‘Social transitioning’ occurs when a person chooses to present themselves as a member of the opposite sex. This may be through aesthetic changes such as clothing and hairstyles, and could also include going by a different name and using different pronouns. Generally social transitioning is reversible. A medical transition is the use of medical interventions such as puberty blockers, hormone treatment and surgery to alter the body. Some types of medical transitions, such as puberty blockers, are reversible, whereas surgery is generally permanent. Even with reversible treatment, a transitioning person may suffer permanent side-effects.

You will likely have heard about the ‘transgender movement’ in the US and the UK. It is extremely aggressive; it hounds people who disagree with it. It has led to people, particularly in academia, resigning or being fired for their non-transgender-conforming views.

The most perturbing issue in dispute currently is the insistence by transgender activists that transgender women (men who transition to women) are women in the biological sense. There is no such hysteria, however, about women who transition to men. Why this is so is not often discussed.

The most famous celebrity that the transgender movement tried to cancel is JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. They discovered that it’s very difficult to cancel the very rich. She was very supportive of transgender women, but refused to accept that they are biological women.

False claim

Those critical of transgender women being considered biological women, usually are not opposed to the right to live life as their preferred gender, but will not accept refutation of biological sex so as to include transgender women. Many transgender women activists and journalists recognise and are angry about the false claim that transgender women are biological women. They express concern about the shrill bullying and anti-scientific assertion that sex is ‘assigned’ at birth. 

Whether there are biological explanations for the transgender phenomenon, it does not alter that men are biological men and women are biological women. There are very rare cases of hermaphroditism, the condition of having both male and female reproductive organs, but this doesn’t derogate from the argument. There is some evidence that some transgender people’s brains display a tendency that results in a clash between what a person feels his or her sex to be and the biology with which they are born.  

The ‘assignation’ at birth of sex is risible. Sex is determined in utero; it’s not as if as a child is born and some mysterious process happens which decides and certifies the sex the baby shall have. This is the gender theory equivalent of creationism – that the earth came into being 6 000 years ago despite incontrovertible science that the earth came into existence over 3 billion years ago.

The consequence of this assault on the status of biological women is that it threatens to undo over a century’s fight for women’s rights. Much of what women have had to fight for has its roots in women’s physiology.

Here’s some sobering advice for biological women and transgender women – women can’t have it all. Biological women have a very small window in which to marry and have children. This doesn’t mean that women can’t chose not to marry, or not to have children, or delay having them. Choices can be made but compared to biological men, women draw the short straw.

Women are able to bear children from puberty to the age of 35 relatively safely. Obviously the safety depends on access to the right medical facilities, or on cultural norms that may require teenagers or even children to marry and have children, which may be severely damaging if not fatal to the girls’ health.

Pregnancy

Assuming one lives in a First World context, women can bear children safely for about 20 years. After 35 the risks attendant on pregnancy and the ability to fall pregnant deteriorate dramatically; so too does the chance of the baby having abnormalities rise.

But what is a profound distinction of biological women is roughly 40 years of monthly menstruation, which can inhibit normal activity for being embarrassing, painful, likely to trigger migraines and messy, particularly for poor girls and women who don’t have easy access to feminine hygiene products.

The hormonal consequences for women are inexorably tied to the social consequences of their relationships with men and the options that they do or, mostly, don’t have in life. This informs women’s rights.

Then as all of this is coming to an end, menopause kicks in with its own discomforts and disruption. Getting over that is usually wonderful for women, only to realise that the ravages of age start to appear with disturbing frequency.

Obviously all of this represents the common experience; experiences may differ. However, all of this is what makes women biological women. Transgender women deserve respect for their choices and the way they live their life. But they are not biological women and to insist they are diminishes what women deal with just by virtue of being women.

And if your children are taught, at the age of six, that they can change their sex, protest it. Sex and gender are way too sensitive and complex issues to raise with young children. Age-appropriate education and the buy-in of parents is crucial. It is not up to teachers and consultants to inculcate their views which are false.

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Wash, rinse, repeat: the curious case of the Milnerton High ‘racist’

Caiden dissects the alleged racism at Milnerton High, explores the inconsistencies and comments on the inevitable insertion of diversity consultants which usually results in a non racist school becoming racist.
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It’s not racist until it’s racist

There is an ugly phenomenon in our education space, just as in broader society, in which allegations of racism are being made on the assumption that behaviour is racist. This is before the evidence is in.

There is something surreal about the high pitched denunciation of apparent racism that percolates in our public space.

The response to the alleged racist urinating incident at Stellenbosch University was loud, outraged, sometimes racist. It was a disgusting act, but the fact that the victim was black doesn’t mean that it was racist.

This juvenile behaviour, unfortunately, is not uncommon at universities, even the Ivy League institutions. My colleague exposed us to this world here.

The commentariat, usually comprised of the privileged elite which includes university students, go out into the public square, spewing outrage. The outrage festers because social media is suited to charges of outrage and intolerance.

The urinating incident was revolting. The perpetrator deserves any punishment the university may impose on him. What I don’t know is, and I don’t know if the commentariat knows, was the incident racist? 

The commentariat holds that the fact that it happened to a black student, ipso facto, made it racist. If there was no intention to be racist and the student could as easily have done it to a white student, it’s not racist.

What is particularly egregious is that one prank by a student, most likely drunk out of his skull, reflects ‘institutional’ or ‘systemic’ racism. 

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Professor of Education at the University of Stellenbosch, questioned why we are rightly outraged over the ‘pissing incident’ but asks where is the outrage over the 2,818 children under the age of five who have died of malnutrition in SA hospitals in the past three years? ‘Where is the campus outrage at a time when we literally put flames to the bodies of black people from other African countries? There is something deeply disturbing about student activism at present. It is so inwardly focused, transient and blissfully disconnected from the broader politics of racial resentment in the country and the world. In other words, a poverty of thinking that results from a narrow education that has little in its knapsack other than reactionary behaviour.’

James Myburgh in an article on Politicsweb entitled ‘The Two Weeks Hate and Tony Leon’ describes it thus: ‘In South Africa there is a ritual, best described as the Two Weeks Hate*, in which some person or institution becomes the focus of intense uncontrollable rage, first on Twitter, and then across the local and sometimes even international media. This developed into its current form about five years ago and the general pattern, and the High Priests responsible for its execution, are all familiar by now.’

The upshot is that the go-to position (even for Prof.Jansen), when the act of a white person has been publicly declared racist before evidence finds the alleged perpetrator to be (or not) a racist, puts the finding ahead of an examination of the facts. As a consequence, innocent lives that may be damaged, students leave their universities and jobs may be lost.

The South African Human Rights Commission has found after investigation that many cases of alleged racism, reveal that the accused have not committed racist acts. But the damage has already been done.

Prof. Jansen says ‘Now that some of the smoke of protest has cleared around an outrageously racist act in a men’s residence at Stellenbosch University (SU), it is time for deeper reflection. The facts of the case are undisputed. A white student urinated on the laptop and other possessions of a black student. However, the public incense, sometimes disguised as commentary, was all over the place. Let’s take a closer look.’

He then goes on to say that this incident is a distraction from bigger issues . On process he says ‘even a simple decision by the senate to teach a core module that requires all students to engage with issues of race, identity, culture and politics has remained in a cycle of perpetual piloting status.’

I am not convinced about “teaching” students not to be racist will resolve the problem. Prof. Jansen is correct, however, when he says racist attitudes will mostly come from a home environment. The home environment is not in the purview of the accusers or the university. For that reason it may be very difficult to change the attitudes of studdents.

In reality we will never rid society of racism. In the same way that we won’t rid society of gender-based violence, rape and murder. The best we can hope for is to lessen it or minimise it.

Attitudes are very difficult to change. What schools and universities can achieve, however, is the inculcation of behaviour that is moderate and respectful whatever a student’s beliefs are. But don’t expect to change attitudes. Attitudes change with time and exposure to different environments and different people, and because of the inculcation of good behaviour.

Many of the cases of alleged racism investigated by the South African Human rights Council find that the alleged perpetrators have not committed racist acts. But the damage has already been done.

An article in The Citizen was headed ‘Racism remains SA’s most stubborn problem, as SAHRC sees spike in complaints’. Racism is an issue in this country, but is not by any stretch South Africa’s most stubborn problem. The hysterical hyperbole of the press doesn’t help.

“Abortion” for children

Children's authors have decided that children who are too young must be exposed to realities of abortion as if it's just the opposite of pregnancy. It's scary.

Gender Theory, another branch of the social justice paradigm, is starting to be implemented in schools. This theory is altogether on a level of magnitude more fact-resistant, irrational, emotive and potentially damaging than race theory.

I wrote about this in an article titled On another level: the dangers in Gender Theory on 16 May 2022.

Picture story

However, nothing prepared me for coming across a child’s picture story book for children under the age of 13.

It is titled Whats an Abortion, Anyway? The author describes it as a “Resource for young people who are curious about abortion or know someone who’s had one”.

The author assumes that children reading the book or having it read to them have a basic understanding of how pregnancy occurs; a rather naïve assumption.

The book has colourful, simple illustrations including a cute brown puppy-dog. It’s hard-cover, with a pretty front cover.

The back cover blurb states: ‘“What’s an Abortion, Anyway?” is a medically accurate, non-judgmental, and gender-inclusive resource for young folks about abortion care.

‘In this book, you’ll learn about what an abortion is, some of the reasons people have abortions, and a few of the ways people might feel about their abortions.’

The book shows that what it says is a gender-inclusive issue is, in fact, medically inaccurate.

The guide to parents on the inside cover states: ‘Abortion can be a difficult topic to broach among adults, let alone children. As abortion doulas, we know how important it is to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to have intentional, compassionate, and nonjudgmental conversations about abortion care with the young people in their lives. To our knowledge, there are currently no published books in the US that use the word “abortion” for children under the age of 13. Parents, caretakers, and providers need and deserve a nonjudgmental, gender-inclusive, and medically accurate resource to use in discussions with children about abortion.

‘Our intention is for this book to be a starting point – just one initial resource for parents, caretakers, and those wanting to talk to the young people in their lives about abortion care. As you’ll discover in the book’s text, the language used is devoid of gender or a traditional narrative arc due to the expansive, complex nature of abortion care. To use a traditional narrative arc would be to erase the millions of individual stories and reasons that people seek abortion care. It is important to us that this book does not perpetuate the ideology that there are “good” reasons or “bad” reasons to have an abortion.’

Doula

According to her biography the author, ‘Carly Manes (she/her)’ ‘is a white, queer, Jewish full-spectrum doula from New York. She has always believed that young people deserve transparency when it comes to information about their sexual health and bodies. Carly has been a practising abortion doula for over six years, supporting more than 2,000 individuals during their in-clinic procedures. She loves the beach, chicken tenders, and her communities. She lives with her partner Mo and their playful pitbull Mickey.’

A doula is a professional labour assistant who provides physical and emotional support to prospective parents during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. A doula is not a healthcare professional.

I had never heard of an abortion doula but apparently the “profession” does exist; not a bad idea in and of itself.

The illustrator ‘Mar (they/them),’ is a ‘brown genderqueer cultural worker and full-spectrum doula.’

The two, under the name Emulsify, create art that helps them ‘heal, learn, advocate, and imagine new worlds. They believe all art is powerful and political.’ Mar lives in Brooklyn with ‘their’ wife and spends ‘a lot of time creating while snuggling their pups’. Through ‘their’ work, M has made incredible friendships, learned from brilliant peers, and found ‘their’ home.’

It’s all very affirming and fluffy, but I don’t believe that something as potentially negatively life-changing as abortion is a matter for a deceptive-looking story book. Abortion falls within that greater subject of sex, and together with religion, should be entirely in the hands of the parents and discussed at a suitable age or in an appropriate set of circumstances.

The introduction for parents, who are going to read the book to children, notes that ‘Folk of all different gender identities get pregnant which means that folk have abortions.’ This is nonsense.

Honour everyone who has abortions

Manes says her aim is to honour everyone who has abortions and ‘challenges the mainstream cisgender assumptions that only women have abortions.’ As Prager U’s Will Witt says, ‘try to explain that sentence to a 5 year old!’

There you have the essence of the controversy about gender theory: identities other than biological women are ‘folk’ who ‘have abortions’. People have been cancelled, blocked, and lost jobs because they express the biological truth that women, and only women, are biological women.

Not according to the authors. They say: ‘When a person gets pregnant, some people have an abortion’.

‘An abortion is when someone decides to stop growing their pregnancy.’ Stop growing their pregnancy? As Charlie Brown would say: Good grief!

‘There are many different ways that people who are pregnant can have an abortion. Some people see a doctor who does a special procedure to remove the pregnancy from inside a person’s body. Other people take medicine to stop the pregnancy from growing bigger.

‘Abortions are very safe and millions of people have abortions every year all around the world.’

Let’s just have a look at that last flippant and ignorant remark.

World Health Organisation statistics show that 45% of induced abortions are unsafe. Some 13.2% of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions. The author obviously caters to an indulged, protected first-world audience; the trials and tribulations of the second and third worlds don’t enter her mind.

‘People have abortions for different reasons: some people have abortions because they like their family exactly as it is. Some have abortions because they can’t take care of a new baby right now. Some have abortions because doctors say pregnancy can make you sick. No matter the reason everyone should be able to make this decision for themselves.’

Roe v Wade generation

This reflects the attitude of a Roe v Wade generation, where the physical and emotional stresses of considering and then having an abortion are regarded as no more traumatic than a dose of ‘flu.

‘People have many different feelings before, during, and after their abortion. Some people want to talk about it and some don’t. Some people feel happy or calm. Some feel sad or lonely. Many people feel all these things at the same time. No matter how someone feels about their abortion they deserve to be treated with love and respect.

‘We can never really know what it is like to be someone else.’

Essentially they almost make abortion seem like a cool flip side of the pregnancy coin.

Abortion and the decision-making leading to it are usually extremely difficult and emotionally draining. While a partner, male or female, may be involved in the decision whether to have an abortion or not, only a woman (or girl) can have an abortion.

This is not an issue to discuss with a child unless a child asks about it, or is at an appropriate age to deal with and understand the issue. It is not subject matter for a child’s story book.

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Rants professionally to rail against the illiberalism of everything. Broke out of 17 years in law to pursue my classical music passion and run the Joburg Philharmonic, but had to work with musicians. Working with composer Karl Jenkins was a treat. Used to camping in the middle of nowhere. Have 2 sons for whom no girl is good enough, says mom.

American antiracism is social justice status quo in South Africa’s private schools

UCT professors Nicoli Natrass and Jeremy Seekings warn us how American antiracism, as opposed to South African non-racialism , dominates UCT's transformation and social justice agenda. The same applies in South Africa private schools.

On 14 June The Daily Maverick published an article titled ‘South African non-racialism or American antiracism? UCT muddles through muddied waters’ by UCT professors Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings.

The authors discuss the ideological difference between contemporary American antiracism and South African non-racialism and explain that the former has come to dominate the university’s transformation and social justice agenda.

The authors explain, with reference to the work of ‘the American guru of “antiracist training”’, Robin DiAngelo (author of White Fragility), that ‘American antiracism does not simply mean being anti or against racism’. Instead, it requires an ‘essentialist apartheid understanding of “race”’ and rejection of ‘colour-blindness’, leading the authors to conclude that ‘Contemporary American antiracism entails a rejection of non-racialism’.

Warnings

The Institute of Race Relations has over the past two years sounded warnings about this new and illiberal idea of social justice.

We have argued that antiracism has become the default position when it comes to matters of social justice in private schools. In investigating this we have read school anti-discrimination policies, codes of conduct, and antiracism statements adopted by schools and organisations like the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA); conducted numerous interviews with concerned principals, teachers, and parents; and engaged with reading material recommended by school antiracist consultants and transformation committees.

Despite this, we have been derided by some commentators for creating unnecessary panic about an apparently non-existent phenomenon. We have been accused of importing American right-wing talking points and been told by critics that we just don’t ‘get it’. At every turn we have countered the critics with reasoned arguments citing examples proving our case.

It was reassuring therefore, to read the article by Nattrass and Seekings who are among very few academics (Professor David Benatar is another) who have been willing to criticise antiracism and its grip on tertiary institutions in South Africa, particularly at UCT.

Features inherent to antiracism

The authors highlight a number of features inherent in antiracism which they see as undermining efforts to advance social justice – features that, the IRR has argued, are present to varying degrees in private schools countrywide.

Our primary concern with antiracism ideology is its rejection of non-racialism in favour of race consciousness.

Antiracist ideology, explain Nattrass and Seekings, ‘frames all disadvantages experienced by “black” people as the result of “systemic racism”, meaning the institutional and cultural promotion of “white supremacy”’.

Once this worldview is accepted, achieving social justice becomes a matter of ‘dismantling systems’ associated with ‘whiteness’. Not only is this empirically spurious but it results in a profound scepticism of anything associated with white people.

The idea plays out in schools in concerning ways including school policies asserting that ‘whiteness’ is synonymous with the oppression of black people, that white pupils need to feel guilty and apologise for their ‘white privilege’, and that white pupils be required to acknowledge that they are necessarily racist because they are white.

It is unsurprising given this focus on race that we have seen the adoption of what Nattrass and Seekings call ‘DiAngelo-style “affinity groups”’ in schools. These affinity groups are racially exclusive and serve different purposes depending on what colour skin you have.

Nattrass and Seekings discuss affinity groups for white people, formed ‘as part of a broader effort to “decentre whiteness”. We at the IRR are aware of affinity groups in schools reserved for black people, the purpose of which, as one school explains, is to create a space for students where they can be safe from the oppressive nature of white spaces.

Rejection of colour blindness

In a significant number of private schools, particularly those affiliated with ISASA, there is an outright rejection of Martin Luther King Jnr -style ‘colour-blindness’. In fact, some schools have even included expressions of colour-blindness on official lists containing examples of racist speech, effectively prohibiting constitutionally protected speech.

A second although no less pressing concern is the way in which antiracist advocates promote their race essentialist ideas.

Nattrass and Seekings describe how antiracism initiatives at UCT are being pushed ‘as a matter of ideological (or religious) conversion rather than critical engagement’. This too is the case in private schools where pupils and staff are regularly required to attend mandatory antiracist or so-called diversity, equity and inclusion training sessions where any criticism of antiracism is quickly stifled with unchecked moral certainty.

American antiracism, as the IRR along with Nattrass and Seekings have argued, leads to tribalism and the muffling of viewpoint diversity. The IRR believes that social justice depends on the affirmation of the constitutionally enshrined values of non-racialism and freedom of opinion. As such, we will continue to criticise antiracist ideology as and when it is foisted upon the youth of South Africa.

Article: Walkout at Milton Academy

When high-school students can’t tolerate hearing the name of a book title, we know there’s a problem in education. This happened in America, but it's happening in South Africa.

One of us, Harvey Silverglate, recently got “cancelled,” in a sense, for publicly mentioning a notorious term, often used as a slur. In one of those great ironies that characterize our historical moment, the impugned utterance was contained in a lecture on the importance of free speech in academia.

The situation unfolded on April 27th at Milton Academy, a prestigious private high school in Massachusetts. A student group, the Public Issues Board, had sponsored a multi-day series of panels and lectures on subjects of the students’ choosing. Silverglate was invited to give a talk on free speech and academic freedom, a subject in which he specializes.

Milton Academy Campus / Youtube

Approximately two-thirds of the way into the lecture, Silverglate held up before the audience two books. One was entitled The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses, which Silverglate co-authored in 1998. The book focused largely on the struggles to protect free speech in higher education. The other book was authored by a Harvard Law School professor, Randall Kennedy (the co-author of this article). The title of that book is Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, published in 2002 and recently updated.

As soon as Silverglate pronounced the name of Kennedy’s book, an audible murmur was heard from the audience. Silverglate tried to explain why it was essential that he pronounce the actual title of the book, rather than the frequent substitution, “the n-word.” He intended to point out that if one followed the fashionable rule that the infamous n-word could never be appropriately uttered in full under any circumstances, one would have to leave gaps in the writings and performances of, among others, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, Mark Twain, Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce. But amidst the clamor, a substantial part of the audience walked out, although a few students did remain after the lecture to discuss or debate points with Silverglate.

Though we come from different perspectives, we have collaborated on this essay because of what the walk-out tells us about the dangers that free speech and academic freedom face even in purportedly sophisticated, broad-minded, intellectually adventurous settings. The articulation of “nigger” did not arise out of the blue. It arose in the context of a high-school program focused on freedom of expression featuring remarks by a speaker who had been invited no doubt because of his reputation as a free speech “absolutist.” If controversial opinions regarding what words and ideas may be aired are ruled out of place at a free-speech assembly at Milton Academy, we know that we have entered a perilous cultural moment in which debate is overwhelmed by unquestioning persecutions of perceived heresies.

We probably would have let this matter rest, were it not for the fact that days after Silverglate’s address, the Public Issues Board sent out an email to the entire student body, apologizing for Silverglate’s purported infraction. “As members of the Milton community,” read the email, “we know not to use the ‘n-word’ due to its repugnant history and connotation. Thus, it was shocking and uncomfortable to hear the word voiced multiple times by Mr. Silverglate.”

One student forwarded that email to Silverglate, who in turn, on May 23rd, sent an email to Milton’s head of the upper school, David Ball. Silverglate requested of Mr. Ball that he be allowed to circulate to the entire student body his response to the disapproval expressed by his hosts, and his defense of having quoted the full and accurate title of Kennedy’s book. When no response was forthcoming, Silverglate sent Mr. Ball a reminder on June 10th. It is now August, and, as of this writing, still there has been no response.

The lessons taught by this sad tale are sobering. One is that it is apparently acceptable for students to signal their disagreement with a speaker by walking out of an assembly rather than subjecting his or her ideas to the testing that vigorous dialogue allows. We know that practices from higher education have permeated the K-12 world, and that today a third of college students believe that it is sometimes or always acceptable to shout down speakers, or to try to prevent them from speaking on campus. Another 13 percent believe that is it sometimes or always acceptable to block other students from attending a campus speech.

Another lesson is that the educational authorities at a storied academic institution are so afraid of offending the sensibilities of censors that they would rather discourteously ignore a guest speaker’s request to respond to a mistaken charge than permit the airing of a full debate. What happened at Milton is hardly an attractive display of diversity, inclusion, or equity.

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