Debating The Effects Of Whiteness Studies On America’s Schools

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* Book: Exploring White Fragility: Debating The Effects Of Whiteness Studies On America’s Schools. By Christopher Paslay.



Marlo Safi:

“Paslay’s book explores research and presents alternative recommendations on approaching diversity and inclusion in the classroom to bringing in guest speakers to conduct “anti-racism” trainings. While school and workplace administrators may invite such experts with admirable intentions of remedying disparities, Paslay claimed such trainings carry the potential of being counterproductive in achieving social justice.

His book is written from the perspective of a longtime educator with a background in multicultural education. Paslay has spent 24 years teaching high school English, where he crafts his lesson plans with a selection of texts and literature that represent the different cultures of his students in an effort to be inclusive, he told the Caller. “We have a really unique, diverse group of kids. The students grow up together, and I’m a track coach so I see them in the classroom and on the track, and they get along great. They’re all friends,” he said.

While Paslay has an advanced degree in multicultural education and drew inspiration from it into his own teaching method, he’s concerned about the other approach that has seemingly gained momentum as an instructional guide.

Critical race theory, also which has also been called anti-racism, doesn’t aim to celebrate diversity, he told the Caller. Its goal is to “disrupt and dismantle,” which he said obscures underlying problems, such as single-parent households, that need to be addressed in order to achieve academic success regardless of race.

Paslay claimed diversity trainings, especially when made compulsory, can breed resentment and only cause division, giving examples from his own interviews with parents of children enrolled in a school where “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo had led a conference. He referenced data presented in a Harvard Business Review article:

Firms have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias on the job, hiring tests and performance ratings to limit it in recruitment and promotions, and grievance systems to give employees a way to challenge managers. Those tools are designed to preempt lawsuits by policing managers’ thoughts and actions. Yet laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out. As social scientists have found, people often rebel against rules to assert their autonomy. He also cited Dr. Mahzarin Banaji, a psychologist working in the area of implicit biases, saying that implicit bias “mandatory training has the potential for backlash.” “The reality that decades of diversity and anti-bias training is at best inconsequential, and at worst, creating more problems — matters little to those invested in identity politics,” Paslay wrote in his book.”