School Diary: Diversity Day

 

Today was Open Hearts Day, a.k.a. Diversity Day at my school, an occasion that admin has been talking up for weeks now. Some of you might have had similar diversity training experiences at work; I’d be curious to know if this is similar to what you’ve been through.

My first year at school, we literally called this day “Diversity Day.” Each homeroom put a table outside their classroom in the hallway and the students placed items on the table that reflected their ethnic heritage. I put my globe on the table with bright dots to reflect the different places that my students’ families had come from. Then we all walked around and admired everyone’s tables.

Such a simple, wholesome event couldn’t last long. A small vocal contingent of students, all black or Hispanic from Chicago and housed in the boarding program (the daily commute from their homes would be too far) and nearly all recipients of scholarships for economically disadvantaged students, began complaining that they had encountered many students who had “committed microaggressions” and “incidents of racism.” They threatened a walkout on Instagram, claiming that anyone who did not join them was racist. The admin got wind of it from the hysterical parents of their hysterical peers and thus ended the simple Diversity Day and began an orgy of “hard work” to root out the “systemic racism” in an otherwise utterly normal little high school.

So today was our second Open Hearts Day. We had three sessions: the whole school listened to an actually interesting presentation by Christo Brand, one of Nelson Mandela’s jailers on Robben Island. He spoke frankly about Mandela’s decision to judge people without reference to the color of their skin, a message that was completely contradicted by every other session offered.

There were two other mandatory sessions during the day. I chose the most innocuous ones but the choices were iffy: “Implicit Bias is Global,” “Discovering and Understanding your own Biases” (where, for the benefit of the aforementioned aggrieved group of the students, case studies of microaggressions at school were discussed in small groups anonymously- Soviet-style), and “Social Awareness that Impels to Action”. The session I attended focused on the United Nations: “This session will provide an opportunity for conversation about how International Day of the Girl inspires “understanding implicit bias and becoming allies for one another.” It opened with an “acknowledgement” of the fact that our speaker on Zoom was talking to us from “stolen land” and went on to name the tribes. She then reminded us that our school was also on stolen land and told us the names of those tribes. When she tried to start a conversation around the ideas of allyship etc, there was dead silence. No one spoke. A few attempts were made to get things going, but it was like making a fire with damp wood.

The second session was “Service, Solidarity, and Sustainability” in which we learned about why people do service and why 85% of people doing it in the US are white and can fall victim to the savior complex. We got to see selfie-style pictures of young women and men (all white) in Africa and Southeastern Asia posing in groups of smiling young children. I particularly enjoyed the animations of a voluptuous white woman wearing hot pants, barely covering her bottom, leaning over a young African boy in some kind of school setting (different image from the series below).

A Social Media Guide To Taking Ethical Selfies In Low-Income Countries : Goats and Soda : NPR

The saddest part of the day, however, was when a young sophomore student came to ask me if I thought it would be alright if she left school at lunchtime. She closed the door and said that she was so very uncomfortable (as you can imagine!) being a conservative during this “Open Hearts Day.” She told me, “I know I’m supposed to be able to talk but I just can’t-“and it was a betrayal of her values to pretend she agreed when she really did not. Her mother had told her not to stick her neck out because the other students would just get hysterical. I told her it was fine for her to go home. She comes to school for academics, after all, not this kind of politics. It felt like a conversation that parents might have had in a communist regime.

What will be the result of this kind of education? If admin is only ticking boxes to appease the unhappy boarders, the damage they are doing to the others is considerable. There is no moral courage here- and I feel so sorry for it.

The whole thing leaves a bitter taste.

Published in Education
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  1. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    In particular, the Catholic church seems to have sadly and tragically embraced this identity social construct. The current infallible pope leads this process. It does make one consider that “infallable” concept…

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    My first ancestor to arrive on these shores came here to get away from knuckleheads who insisted that he pray the same way they did*. And now I find myself forced to “have conversations” with knuckleheads.

    • #2
  3. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    In particular, the Catholic church seems to have sadly and tragically embraced this identity social construct. The current infallible pope leads this process. It does make one consider that “infallable” concept…

    Yes. Yes. I called that student’s mother at the end of the day and she said, “I just don’t get it. We’re Catholic and it’s a Catholic school but all this is so un-Catholic…”

    Parents like her try so hard to do the right thing for their children and get them out of school districts that are dysfunctional like CPS and then they find this. 

    • #3
  4. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Percival (View Comment):

    My first ancestor to arrive on these shores came here to get away from knuckleheads who insisted that he pray the same way they did*. And now I find myself forced to “have conversations” with knuckleheads.

    I found myself thinking about how easily these sessions could spiral into violence. I just finished reading “Wild Swans” and I found the rhetoric leading to the Cultural Revolution eerily similar to what we are living through now. What would it take to whip that into a frenzy?

    • #4
  5. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    I somehow suspect that I would be expelled if I was a student and asked to show something reflecting my ethnic heritage…..

     

    • #5
  6. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):

    I somehow suspect that I would be expelled if I was a student and asked to show something reflecting my ethnic heritage…..

     

    My wife believes she has some Viking heritage. It would be great to plunder, kill, rape and then simply say: that is because of my genes. Science! 

    • #6
  7. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    If you had refused to attend the sessions, or were vocally critical of them afterwards, what would the consequences be?

    If people do not take stands, then nothing happens.

    • #7
  8. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):

    I somehow suspect that I would be expelled if I was a student and asked to show something reflecting my ethnic heritage…..

    It would have been rough on me if I’d brought in a bottle of Irish whiskey.

    • #8
  9. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    “Diversity Day” was the best episode of The Office (US version).

    • #9
  10. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    If you had refused to attend the sessions, or were vocally critical of them afterwards, what would the consequences be?

    If people do not take stands, then nothing happens.

    To be honest, I don’t know what consequences there would be. It’s a small school with no union (which has its upsides and downsides) so if we alienate admin, life becomes uncomfortable. We (faculty and staff) were told that our willing participation was obligatory. The organizer also emphasized that the point of the exercise was not to create a cancel culture at school but to encourage dialogue. But as you can see, with the (possibly accidental) exception of the Mandela session, everything else was centered around leftist talking points. We will fill out a questionnaire about the exercise later and I intend to be thorough about how slanted the day’s activities were.

    • #10
  11. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    If you had refused to attend the sessions, or were vocally critical of them afterwards, what would the consequences be?

    If people do not take stands, then nothing happens.

    I know exactly what you mean and you’re right but it simply is not possible to always take a stand. Douglas Murray has spoken about this point frequently and Shapiro has addressed it as well- the difficulty of individuals to protest these kinds of measures at institutions.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    My first ancestor to arrive on these shores came here to get away from knuckleheads who insisted that he pray the same way they did*. And now I find myself forced to “have conversations” with knuckleheads.

    I found myself thinking about how easily these sessions could spiral into violence. I just finished reading “Wild Swans” and I found the rhetoric leading to the Cultural Revolution eerily similar to what we are living through now. What would it take to whip that into a frenzy?

    Maybe this topic should come up at the impeachment trial, if there is one.

    • #12
  13. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    Would you mind emailing me about this? BethanyShondark@gmail.com 

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    If you had refused to attend the sessions, or were vocally critical of them afterwards, what would the consequences be?

    If people do not take stands, then nothing happens.

    If I’m going to review my ethnicities, I’m going to review all of them.

    This could take a while …

    • #14
  15. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    As far as I can tell, what is taught about “implicit bias” has no scientific basis. The test results used to claim “implicit bias” are not statistically significant and cannot be replicated. Even so, I understand that groups tested before and after training to remove “implicit bias” are more biased after training than they were before. “Implicit bias” is a sure sign the organizers are dealing in fake science and that the exercise is based in dishonesty and indoctrination. 

    • #15
  16. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    This is just good training for when they get more frequent and intense doses of the same when they get a job, years from now.

    • #16
  17. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Giulietta (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    If you had refused to attend the sessions, or were vocally critical of them afterwards, what would the consequences be?

    If people do not take stands, then nothing happens.

    To be honest, I don’t know what consequences there would be. It’s a small school with no union (which has its upsides and downsides) so if we alienate admin, life becomes uncomfortable. We (faculty and staff) were told that our willing participation was obligatory. The organizer also emphasized that the point of the exercise was not to create a cancel culture at school but to encourage dialogue. But as you can see, with the (possibly accidental) exception of the Mandela session, everything else was centered around leftist talking points. We will fill out a questionnaire about the exercise later and I intend to be thorough about how slanted the day’s activities were.

    Oh, dialogue is encouraged? At my job, really what this means is that you parrot back the D&I talking points, and nod your head during the Struggle Session Teams Meeting.

    All dialogue is encourage, as long as it’s the right kind of dialogue.

    • #17
  18. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    It would seem that I retired at a good time, since at the time I thought that we had reached the apogee of such stupidity. I suppose that overestimating the ludicrous limits of leftist stupidity is nearly impossible. You have my deepest sympathies, particularly in that you are just beginning your profession where I have now long since terminated mine.

    Back in the early 1970s when this idiocy began I went to my principal and asked to be excused from the morning sessions that lasted for 60 school days, a trimester. I told him that I had to deal with emotionally disturbed students all day, and I didn’t need to start my day dealing with emotionally disturbed adults. He was truly enlightened and granted my wish, telling me to simply stay in my classroom and not discuss my absence from the meetings with anyone. That is what I did.

    • #18
  19. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Would you mind emailing me about this? BethanyShondark@gmail.com

    Sent-

    • #19
  20. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    “Diversity Day” was the best episode of The Office (US version).

    My favorite US episode will always be the “Fire Drill”. When Angela flings her cats up into the ceiling space and we see them falling out the other side, that was extremely amusing. 

    • #20
  21. Brian Wyneken Member
    Brian Wyneken
    @BrianWyneken

    At one point in my Air Force career I had (got stuck with) the additional duty of being the “Senior Officer Responsible for Diversity” at an Air Wing. As part of this duty, pursuant to a new “Air Force Instruction” published in 2012, I had oversight to establish the wing level program and report on that annually. There was a enough wiggle room in the directives that we were able to confidently avoid any of the morale busting jargon or programming of what they are now calling “equity.” We used the term “inclusion” but made it clear that inclusion meant everyone. Mainly we focused on efforts to (1) maintain a strong baseline of respect, (2) ensure skills and development opportunities were more widely offered and were well broadcast so that no one could claim to have been left out of at least knowing about them, and (3) engaged a broader and long-term recruiting effort in some less traditional (i.e. more difficult) areas of the community (with an absolute prohibition on quota type “goals”).

    “Diversity” has too often been a manipulative term designed more for obfuscation, so we did run into some suspicion among the rank and file. We also had some flak from the zealots an echelon higher. But, we could meet all the program requirements with this approach and could also believe that we were hopefully doing more good than harm.

    My point in this tale is that maybe getting involved in these “efforts” could create an path for fixing some of the problem – even if it is just a little part. The story of your student feeling alienated ought to be heard by the principal and by other instructors.

    • #21
  22. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Brian Wyneken (View Comment):

    At one point in my Air Force career I had (got stuck with) the additional duty of being the “Senior Officer Responsible for Diversity” at an Air Wing. As part of this duty, pursuant to a new “Air Force Instruction” published in 2012, I had oversight to establish the wing level program and report on that annually. There was a enough wiggle room in the directives that we were able to confidently avoid any of the morale busting jargon or programming of what they are now calling “equity.” We used the term “inclusion” but made it clear that inclusion meant everyone. Mainly we focused on efforts to (1) maintain a strong baseline of respect, (2) ensure skills and development opportunities were more widely offered and were well broadcast so that no one could claim to have been left out of at least knowing about them, and (3) engaged a broader and long-term recruiting effort in some less traditional (i.e. more difficult) areas of the community (with an absolute prohibition on quota type “goals”).

    “Diversity” has too often been a manipulative term designed more for obfuscation, so we did run into some suspicion among the rank and file. We also had some flak from the zealots an echelon higher. But, we could meet all the program requirements with this approach and could also believe that we were hopefully doing more good than harm.

    My point in this tale is that maybe getting involved in these “efforts” could create an path for fixing some of the problem – even if it is just a little part. The story of your student feeling alienated ought to be heard by the principal and by other instructors.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it illustrates that there are ways that institutions can be more inclusive for everyone – it’s just equality of access which can be a reasonable goal. 
    I found out today that the evaluations will be anonymous which is good- conservative faculty, staff and students should feel a little better expressing themselves honestly. One only hopes someone in admin actually listens. 

    • #22
  23. KarenZiminski Coolidge
    KarenZiminski
    @KarenZiminski

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):

    I somehow suspect that I would be expelled if I was a student and asked to show something reflecting my ethnic heritage…..

     

    My wife believes she has some Viking heritage. It would be great to plunder, kill, rape and then simply say: that is because of my genes. Science!

    My late Norwegian husband was ridiculously good looking. The Vikings on their raids would grab the most beautiful women and take them back to Scandinavia.

    • #23
  24. Allie Hahn Coolidge
    Allie Hahn
    @AllieHahn

    I’m so grateful to teach in an area that hasn’t really been hit by all of this (at least not yet, lol). May God bless you for the good work you’re trying to do where you are. 

    • #24
  25. Allie Hahn Coolidge
    Allie Hahn
    @AllieHahn

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    “Diversity Day” was the best episode of The Office (US version).

    That episode was my first thought too, haha. Although I have to disagree and say that Dinner Party is the best. 

    • #25
  26. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    KarenZiminski (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):

    I somehow suspect that I would be expelled if I was a student and asked to show something reflecting my ethnic heritage…..

     

    My wife believes she has some Viking heritage. It would be great to plunder, kill, rape and then simply say: that is because of my genes. Science!

    My late Norwegian husband was ridiculously good looking. The Vikings on their raids would grab the most beautiful women and take them back to Scandinavia.

    That’s such a cheery, welcome spin on the Viking conquests!

    • #26