by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week, the Lower Manhattan Community Middle School reportedly separated middle school students into racial groups for a two-day program meant to explore how “racial identities influence our experiences.” The students were divided into five groups: whites, Asians, mixed-race students, and combined African American and Hispanic students. There was also an additional group made up of those uncomfortable with the format.
Of course, this is not the first nor the only such racial affinity group exercise. …
… We are a Black-Jewish woman, a Chinese woman, and a Jewish man of Middle Eastern descent. One might think we would celebrate this identity exercise in the name of “diversity.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Such racially segregated groups are harmful to the participants’ sense of self and highly divisive. Public schools in particular have no business holding them.
What’s wrong with school-imposed racially segregated affinity groups?
First, the majority of segregated affinity groups are exercises in indoctrination. Racial affinity groups may differ, but the majority of them task kids with “owning” their level of “privilege” or “complicity,” based on where they fall on a hierarchy of racial privilege.
Students of color are asked to examine their internalized racial inferiority. School officials pretend to know who has power and how much of it. Apparently, school officials are equipped with a special 23andMe radar that allows them to see how much power a student is endowed with!
While reflecting on one’s own fortunes and showing gratitude are healthy human endeavors, telling people how much power they have based on their skin color or other any other immutable characteristic is, putting it charitably, an act of coercion. And it is opinion masquerading as fact. Many parents understandably do not want their children to go through such humiliation or indoctrination.