A Virginia public school held an event intended for white people as part of its “antiracist” initiative, WRIC reported Monday.
Thomas Dale High School, which is part of Chesterfield County Public Schools, apparently hosted a virtual “Racial Affinity Group” on May 4 that was meant for white staff to attend, according to WRIC.
Some staff at Thomas Dale High School are raising concerns about a group created by the school principal, Dr. Christopher Jones, for white people. Some reached out to 8News saying it was offensive to exclude a race or form a group based on race. https://t.co/JisGVsyRGt
— 8News WRIC Richmond (@8NEWS) May 17, 2021
“We will offer Racial Affinity Groups at Thomas Dale as part of our journey to create and maintain…. Antiracist school,” a newsletter to staff, shared with WRIC, showed. Parts of the newsletter were cut off in the image.
“This particular group will be for white people as we look at the Structure needed… critically and authentically examine our role and responsibility in this work,” the newsletter continues.
The newsletter also appeared to list several articles for staff to read more about affinity groups. Among the articles listed is one by the NY Post from June 2020 about teachers being “segregated into discussion groups based on skin color, race and ethnicity” as part of an “Anti-racist Community Meeting.”
Sonia Smith, president of the Chesterfield Education Association, told WRIC that the “affinity groups” were not about excluding any race, but the exclusive groups were meant to “encourage and foster open dialogue.”
“It’s important to have conversations about race in safe places,” Smith said, according to WRIC.
The “affinity group” was reportedly created by the school’s principal, Dr. Christopher Jones, but the chair of the Chesterfield School Board says the board was not aware of the group and would not have supported “any in group that excludes any race,” WRIC reported.
Thomas Dale High School did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
The school district told WRIC that it “is steadfast in our commitment to foster an inclusive educational environment where every student, teacher, support professional, parent and community member is treated with dignity and respect. We want to continue to engage our community in meaningful and honest conversations.”
In June 2020, Chesterfield schools announced it was working with the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education to hold professional development sessions aimed at improving equity at the school, WRIC reported.
One of the sessions is reportedly called “Racial Affinity Groups: Creating Safe Spaces for Dialogue Among Same Race Colleagues.”
Numerous schools — both public and private — across the country have held “antiracism” sessions and trainings for teachers and students, but often refer to the sessions as “professional development” or “diversity training.”
These trainings are often based on the ideas of Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches students to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
Buffalo Public Schools reportedly required kindergarten students to participate in a lesson on “racist police and state-sanctioned violence” which involved showing images of black children who have died.
At R.I. Meyerholz Elementary School, part of the Cupertino Union School District in San Jose, Calif., third-grade students were reportedly told to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities in order to understand “power and privilege.”
Multiple states have sought to ban CRT from being taught at public schools, or have prevented teachers of CRT facilitators from forcing students or school staff to adopt the ideas in CRT. (RELATED: Entire Public School Board Freaks Out From Critical Race Theory Ban In Oklahoma, Member Blames ‘White Fragility’)