WINNETKA, Ill. – Students at New Trier High School in Illinois will spend Martin Luther King, Jr Day focused on the racial injustices of “food deserts,” Disney movies, Harry Potter, and the controversial concept of white privilege.
“On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 18, 2016, New Trier will host the MLK Seminar Day on Race,” the school website reads. “The goals for this day are to help New Trier students develop a deeper understanding of their own racial identities and the identities of others, and to better understand how we can all work to counter the impact of systemic racism in our lives.”
The event features the daughter of Malcom X, Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of the late Malcom X, as well as author Isabel Wilkerson, author of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” a book about blacks migrating from the south to the north.
“Current events show us that there is still much work to be done toward creating a world in which people are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin,” said Dr. Linda Yonke, Superintendent of New Trier Township High School District 203, according to the Winnetka-Glencoe Patch. “We are proud to spend a day exploring these important topics.”
The school posted descriptors on its website of the more than 80 workshop sessions “presented by New Trier staff, student groups, and experts from the Chicago area.”
The Truth about Ferguson: The Investigation into the Death of Michael Brown: … The United States Justice Department investigated the death of Brown as well as the Ferguson Police Department as a whole. This seminar will look into the Justice Departments findings.
Food Deserts: This seminar with focus on the relationship between food deserts and minority communities in the Chicagoland area. We will look at why food deserts disproportionately affect particular groups of people. We will end with discussions of next steps to create greater equality and access to food.
Mascot or Mockery: Finding Stereotypes in Popular Culture: We will discuss the presence of racially charged parts of our popular culture that we often accept. We will discuss Halloween and sports mascots in particular. Many universities, including the University of Illinois, have recently wrestled with this topic.
Disney and the Creation of Racial Identity: Watch classic Disney films and discuss how these films influence childhood development of racial identities.
Yer’ A White Wizard, Harry: Whitewashing in Cinema: This is a discussion about white dominance in the film industry. We are going to be taking a look at different cases where the voices of People of Color were silenced by the industry and how we can change it.
“The Word”: The Power of Language & Race in Pop Culture: Students will start by viewing an episode of ABC’s show, “Black-ish” entitled “The Word.” A discussion will follow covering topics such as racial language in TV, and the power of words in reinforcing systemic racism. Students will also examine the evolution of racial stereotypes in TV.
Why Do I Have to Feel Guilty for Being White?: Talking about race doesn’t usually feel good for anyone. White people often walk away feeling guilty and thinking, “But I didn’t do anything!” In this workshop, we’ll explore how white guilt can become a roadblock in our journeys toward becoming white allies.
Centuries of Stereotypes: Can’t Just Shake That Off: While history is, indeed, history, knowing how American mass media has shaped the discussion of race in the United States can hopefully make us more thoughtful consumers of culture today.
Students Organized Against Racism: Learn how to mobilize as students to be agents of change in racial justice and racial equity in your community! Everyone has a part!
Several parents wrote in to Breitbart.com to complain about how the seminars will likely accomplish exactly the opposite of King’s focus on character, rather than skin color.
“This is supposed to be a day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Yet of the 59 classes, over half seem to focus on the color of skin and not the content of character. Why not spend the day to study, reflect and write about Dr. King’s actual words, the advancements made and the dreams yet to be realized? …” one unidentified parent wrote in an email.
“These ‘workshops’ and ‘classes’ seem likely to breed within the kids a sense of guilt and shame–as if they are at fault for the misfortune in the world and it is their responsibility to make amends. Several classes are designed to teach them to be, in essence, ‘community organizers.’…It all seems like there is a political agenda underlying it all.”
The news site also points out that New Trier’s events seem to contradict its own policies by providing a one-sided perspective on race and other issues, without any counter argument from those who question the controversial concepts espoused in the seminars.
“ … (T)he program for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is shaped by radical left-wing ideology. There are no presentations from conservative perspectives, such as seminars that question the idea of ‘systemic racism’ itself,” according to the site.
“Other area schools–including Evanston Township High School, which has the largest percentage of black students of any high school on the North Shore–will be closed for the holiday, as usual.”