A public elementary school principal in Portland, Ore. has declared that eating or talking about peanut butter sandwiches is probably racist. She has also instituted a separate-but-unequal drum class for minority students only.
Verenice Gutierrez, the principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, discussed her bizarre brand of logic in an interview with the Portland Tribune.
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez asked. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”
Harvey Scott K-8 also offers a segregated lunchtime drum class for middle school black and Hispanic boys only. Participants must be male. They cannot be white or Asian.
One parent, who wrote to the Tribune anonymously, calls the segregated class “blatant discrimination and [in]equity of women, Asians, whites and Native Americans.”
“This ‘club’ was approved by the administration, and any girls who complained were brushed off and it was not addressed,” the parent added.
The separate-but-equal doctrine doesn’t seem to apply on Gutierrez’s watch. The 500-student school apparently offers no drum classes for male students who are white or Asian, or for girls. Nevertheless, Gutierrez has countered that no children have been rejected from the segregated drum class. The public school principal also argues that the segregated drum class isn’t actually discriminatory.
“When white people do it, it is not a problem, but if it’s for kids of color, then it’s a problem?” the 40-year-old El Paso, Texas native said. “Break it down for me. That’s your white privilege, and your whiteness.”
It’s also not clear where Gutierrez believes offer white-people-only drum classes are offered.
The Tribune notes that all principals employed by the Portland Public Schools participate in a district-wide equality training program called “Courageous Conversations.” The goal of the program is to condition principals and teachers to see their own “white privilege,” which will lead to an improvement in the academic performance of minority students.
Components of the “Courageous Conversations” white-privilege program include rigorous training, regular meetings and classroom observation. Gutierrez, like many Portland Public Schools employees, is certified as an “affiliate” in the California-based program that provides the materials for “Courageous Conversations.”
Harvey Scott K-8 School is about 50 percent Hispanic. Fifteen percent of the students are black. Nine percent are Asian. Over 80 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches.
The school is also terrible academically. The Oregon Department of Education indentified Harvey Scott K-8 as among the lowest 15 percent in the state in academic performance.