Wokeism: Coming to an American School Near You, How “Anti-Racist” Curriculum is Racism 

(Illustration by M. Scott Byers)

February 25, 2021

The Woke movement has done a considerably good job when it comes to hijacking America’s institutions of higher learning. Leftist predominance on college campuses has long since been established and increasing. Recently, public schools (K-12) have been no exception.  

In one instance, the Oregon State Department of Education issued a newsletter about taking up an initiative to promote “equitable mathematics” or “ethnomathematics” in Oregon schools, with the intention of combating “white supremacy” in mathematics. According to the toolkit provided by EquitableMath.org, an emphasis on “getting the right answer,” or “requiring students to show their work,” are all apparently manifestations of white supremacist culture in the classroom. It would appear that, according to these schools, black students can’t be expected to get the right answer or show their work, because the expectation of succeeding without assistance is an oppression they attribute to white supremacy. 

In New York, the Buffalo School District has begun embracing a new “Black Lives Matter” curriculum that would start teaching children “anti-racist” materials. This new curriculum, however, takes it one step further by insisting that “all white people” perpetuate systemic racism. Fatima Morrell, the superintendent for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives at Buffalo public schools, has recommended that teachers begin showing their students videos of black children that were killed by police. This would showcase the narrative that the institution of law enforcement in America is hopelessly systemically racist, and always has been. To advocate for this message, these videos must be shown with little to no context, no diversified perspectives, or redacted information considered inconvenient, in order to push the notion that law enforcement is embedded in systemic racism, and therefore unsafe to the communities in which they police. 

This works extremely well with young children, as they are least likely to understand contextualized data surrounding law enforcement and crime, which would paint a more accurate picture of reality. And of course, insisting that all white people perpetuate systemic racism is itself a racist notion that is based on no empirical evidence. One who hasn’t previously encountered this ideological hogwash surely understands that attempting to hold an entire racial group, children especially, in contempt for the sins of history is fundamentally racist. It is also an extremely dangerous precedent to set. 

Throughout all of this, there’s a key term here that has been repeated multiple times: “anti-racist.” The term is differentiated from simply being “not racist” or “non-racist” by necessitating activism. In other words, any policy that does not explicitly prohibit racism, no matter how neutral the subject is, is considered racist. Following their logic, this would make sense if everything is steeped in systemic racism. This is why leftists insist on policy initiatives that would actually create the very discrimination they claim to be fighting against: 

The problem and the activism are mutually reinforcing. It appears that the perceived problem (systemic racism, or white surpremacy) is irrevocably entrenched in our society; presupposing a racist society, the only possible solution would be active discrimination against the perceived oppresors— whites. Children are no exceptions to bearing the sin of perpetrators of that oppression, which is why they must be taught to actively acknowledge their whiteness. Such was the case in a Cupertino California elementary school where, in an ironically bigoted lesson, third graders were asked to ‘deconstruct’ their racial, sexual, and gender identities according to “power and privilege”.  

 As it would turn out, this new form of discrimination is exactly what Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, a professor at Boston University and anti-racist activist, believes. Kendi explains his ideology in his 2019 bestselling book, How to Be an Antiracist:

Since the 1960s, racist power has commandeered the term “racial discrimination,” transforming the act of discriminating on the basis of race into an inherently racist act. But if racial discrimination is defined as treating, considering, or making a distinction in favor or against an individual based on that person’s race, then racial discrimination is not inherently racist. The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. Someone reproducing inequity through permanently assisting an overrepresented racial group into wealth and power is entirely different than someone challenging that inequity by temporarily assisting an underrepresented racial group into relative wealth and power until equity is reached.”

In other words, according to Dr. Kendi, racial or ethnic discrimination is okay, so long as it is producing equity. This appears to be an attempt to redefine ‘racial discrimination’ as “not racially discriminatory unless.” Unfortunately, it is precisely this cognitive dissonance that is now pervading the American public education system: To effectively be against racism, one needs to actively fight it by racially discriminating against another race in order to promote “equity.” What is often left out of this conversation, is that to presuppose the existence and perpetuation of systemically racists systems, one would need to accept that racism is inherent intergenerationally as a constantly growing societal construct. It is no coincidence that this attitude is often accompanied by a worldly cynicism. 

It is important to understand the ideological underpinnings of the current initiatives being pursued in American schools. It is these initiatives that ultimately call for the purging of racism where it does not exist or, at the minimum, assumes a posteriori knowledge. Prejudging the performance of a student on the basis of skin color, generalizing their experiences, and postulating their oppression and victimization, is not correcting inequality or creating an equitable environment. 

This curriculum couldn’t promote equality because it assumes inequality on the basis of melanin, firstly, while pretending to establish itself on the basis of experience, which, when predicated solely on skin color, is de facto racism. And it cannot create an equitable environment because the method, in principle and praxis, is de facto inequitable and racist. And for as much as these anti-racists talk about combating racism and white supremacy, it really makes me wonder what they truly think about black people and other minorities if they really believe that they can’t be expected to get the right answer on a math problem. Such an analysis to someone who genuinely believes in judging the content of one’s character rather than simply one’s skin color would surely be worrying.


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