Confronting Racism through Workshops

Jennifer Fernandez, News & Record (Greensboro, NC), May 22

Diversity and anti-racism training are not new to Guilford County Schools, but the philosophy of a group offering such training during this academic year has raised concerns.

About 300 teachers and community members have gone through anti-racism training with Chicago-based Crossroads Ministry since August.

Participants are taught that history is written from the perspective of whites and that laws and policies benefit whites while putting minorities at an immediate disadvantage.

The district paid Crossroads Ministry about $45,000 for training through mid-November, a district spokesman said. More current costs were not available.

Superintendent Terry Grier wants to spend $500,000 next year on teacher training, including anti-racism sessions from groups such as Crossroads.

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The teachers, who are mostly white, said they felt defensive going into the workshop because they feel the assumption is they are racist and need the training.

They have been required to take this training, although typically the district allows each school to decide which training to offer or require of employees.

Parent Cheryl Smith wrote a letter to the News & Record about her concerns with Crossroads, particularly descriptions of whites being racist attributed to the Rev. Joe Barndt, a co-founder of Crossroads.

“I have problems with other individuals calling me names and saying ugly things about me or millions of other people when they don’t know me,” said Smith, .

David Beito, an associate professor of history at the University of Alabama, protested the same training at the college five years ago after reading Barndt’s book, “Dismantling Racism.”

He said Barndt looks at the “bleak aspects of American society” and not at “all the progress we’ve had in the past 50 years.”

“There’s a lot of emphasis on guilt,” Beito said in a phone interview. “This is fringe stuff, and they’re trying to force it down people’s throats.”

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