A middle school in New York City plans to racially separate students for discussions on social justice topics and identity issues next week, the New York Post reported Thursday.
The Lower Manhattan Community School will hold the discussions November 23 and 24 to fulfill its mission to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community,” read an email sent to parents by Principal Shanna Douglas.
White, Asian, and multi-racial students are expected to have their own categories, while black students and Hispanic students will be combined into one group, the principal’s email reportedly said.
“On November 23rd and 24th, 7th and 8th graders will explore the question ‘How do our racial identities influence our experiences?’ in affinity groups,” Douglas stated. “An affinity group is a group formed around a shared interest.”
— New York Post (@nypost) November 19, 2021
Apparently an additional group will be available for those uncomfortable with the planned format. This group will discuss the question, “Why are we even talking about racial identity?”
“This optional program was developed in close coordination with both the School Leadership Team, PTA and families,” said Department of Education spokesperson Nathaniel Styer, who said it is “abundantly clear to both students and parents that anyone can opt-out of this two day celebration if they desire.”
According to the Post, Douglas wrote she is focusing on race because “students are talking about it since race has become a popular topic on social media, or parents are talking even more about it at home due to the recent incidents across the nation.”
The principal added the school is 44 percent Asian, 29 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent black, and has not been able to sufficiently address racial issues in the past.
While some parents told the Post the school and teachers “know how to handle” the subject of race, others were not comfortable with the exercises, expressing concern they were adding to a climate of divisiveness.
“I think a lot of us feel like this is too much,” said one mother. “But most parents are too afraid to say anything at this point. Why are we separating our kids like this?”
A father said some families would prefer to make traditional academic subjects a priority, rather than political issues.
“Teach the history,” he said. “Tell that story. I’m all for an honest accounting. But this is something different. It’s insidious.”