NYC’s Racist Dept. Of Ed. Shows The Perils Of Privilege Theory

A new lawsuit alleges there's anti-white racism in New York City’s Education Department. It’s a direct result of privilege theory gone wrong.
David Marcus
By

A long-awaited discrimination lawsuit against New York City’s Department of Education filed by three white employees has finally been filed, according to The New York Post. The details in the suit are deeply troubling and depict a harsh anti-white bias that comes directly from Chancellor Richard Carranza.

The three plaintiffs, Lois Herrera, Jaye Murray, and Laura Feijoo, allege they were given severe demotions and replaced by non-white employees with fewer qualifications. In the suit, their attorney David S. Perry wrote, “Under Carranza’s leadership, DOE quickly has swiftly and irrevocably silenced, sidelined and punished plaintiffs and other Caucasian female DOE employees on the basis of their race, gender and unwillingness to accept their other colleagues’ hateful stereotypes about them.”

According to the suit, the DOE has told white employees that “they had to take a step back and yield to colleagues of color,” and “recognize that values of white culture are supremacist.”

It has previously been reported that the DOE paid $750,000 to a company called Pacific Educational Group, an outfit that supposedly helps institutions fight racism. According to sources who attended Pacific’s training course, they were told that whiteness is “characterized by perfectionism, a belief in meritocracy, and the Protestant work ethic.” All apparently things the DOE should try to avoid teaching students.

The lawsuit contains more details, but the bottom line is that under Carranza, who was hand-picked by mayor and 2020 hopeful Bill de Blasio, the DOE has engaged in, dare I say, systemic racism against white employees. While this is a terrible way for the DOE to operate, it is hardly shocking, especially under de Blasio and Carranza’s leftist leadership. In fact, they are simply calling plays from the privilege theory playbook.

Originally created by academic Peggy McIntosh in the late 1980s, privilege theory was originally meant simply as a tool to understand that white people had, or have, special advantages in American society. Whatever one thinks of that proposition, over the past 30 years the role and uses of privilege theory in society and especially in education have grown a thousandfold in troubling ways.

What began as asking people to take stock of their whiteness has quickly turned into asking white people to give their voices and power to people of color. Finally, and predictably, this has now changed into forcing white people out of their positions of power just because they are white, which no matter how good one’s intentions are (or aren’t) is flat-out illegal.

Arguably worse is the chilling effect that DOE’s actions have on its employees, who rightfully feel that challenging the approach to diversity and anti-racism endorsed by the chancellor could result in repercussions, and even allegations of supporting white supremacy, words bandied about so many things these days that one can hardly avoid engaging in it, apparently.

The progressive privilege-pushers at the DOE have created a perfect syllogistic argument against anyone who opposes their racist measures. They simply argue that any such resistance is evidence of the very white supremacy they are fighting in the person resisting. So sure are they of themselves that they can brook no challenge to their awful policies.

The bravery of the three employees fighting back with the lawsuit is impressive and laudable, especially in today’s environment. There are no doubt those who will accuse them of racism. But hopefully their stance will give some courage to others in the DOE who do not share its leadership’s radical and wrongheaded views to also speak out.

Privilege theory is not entirely without value. It is useful and good to examine whether we have unearned advantages that we take for granted, be they racial, economic, or regarding any other demographic we belong to. But that is the limit of its value—introspection.

Privilege theory has no application to creating actual policy. It should not be treated as the driver of all of our diversity and anti-racism efforts. It is being asked to carry far too great at load at the expense of our children’s educations.

Hopefully, this lawsuit will correct some of the obvious excesses of the DOE’s policies, but the problem is deeper is than that. We need a real conversation in education about race, not a one-way lecture.

David Marcus is the Federalist's New York Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter, @BlueBoxDave.

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