School District Pulls Web Site After Examples Of Racism Spark Controversy

Debera Carlton Harrell, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 2, 2006

An outpouring of criticism forced Seattle Public Schools on Thursday to pull a Web site that viewed planning for the future, emphasizing individualism and defining standard English as examples of cultural racism.

The message had appeared under an “equity and race relations” section of the district’s Web site and was mentioned Thursday in an opinion piece by a Libertarian writer in the Seattle P-I. Criticism of the site has been building in the world of blogs for weeks.

In its place Thursday was a message that the site will be revised to “provide more context to reader around the work that Seattle Public Schools is doing to address institutional racism.”

That message, written by Caprice Hollins, the district’s director of equity and race relations, said the site wasn’t intended to “develop an ‘us against them’ mind-set.”

But she may have stepped into a second controversy by saying the site also wasn’t intended “to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as melting pot or colorblind mentality.”

Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, was the author of Thursday’s opinion piece. Among other things, he drew from the site’s definition of cultural racism.

“Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as ‘other,’ different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers,” the definition said.

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