Whites Only: NYU Hosts Anti-Racism Workshop For White Public School Parents
The six-month-long workshop catered to parents of white public school students, and legal experts fear that the school violated civil rights laws. Costing $360 per person, the workshops were hosted by the Education Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative and, according to the website, were “designed specifically for white public school parents in New York City committed to becoming anti-racist and to collaboratively building equitable, powerful, multiracial parents communities in their schools.”
While the workshop description, now unlisted, never mentioned Black people being forbidden from taking the class, days before the workshop, organizers presented a handout entitled “Why a White Space” that listed different reasons for “white-only” discussions, coming from the nonprofit Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere. They argued that white people need spaces to “unlearn racism” without being subjected to minorities and to “undue trauma or pain.”
One of the parents even questioned the seminar, arguing that not including Black people and other people of color seemed “a little counterintuitive.” NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education Justice Research group Associate Director Barbara Gross said it was for their own good. “People of color are dealing with racism all the time,” Gross said, according to Washington Free Beacon. “Like every minute of every day. It’s a harm on top of a harm for them to hear our racist thoughts.”
Lawyers said that’s not how things work. Dan Morenoff, executive director of the American Civil Rights Project, says the workshop “almost certainly” violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act — an act that governs recipients of federal funding for nonprofit schools like New York University (NYU). Another lawyer, Samantha Harris, said running a “whites only” program in the name of social justice is misguided. “I find it inconceivable that the people putting these programs together don’t see the irony,” Harris said.
Starting in February 2022 – Black History Month – this workshop just concluded its fourth year. Starting out of the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd’s killing, the research group claimed there was a growing interest in learning how to be anti-racist.