A New York middle school has plans to racially separate students while discussing identity issues and social justice topics, as the New York Post reported.
The Lower Manhattan Community School’s discussions will be held on November 23 and 24 to fulfill their mission to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community,” was stated in an email to parents by Shanna Douglas, Principal.
According to the principal’s email, White, Asian, and multi-racial students are expected to have their own categories, while black and Hispanic students will be combined into one group.
“On November 23rd and 24th, 7th and 8th graders will explore the question ‘How do our racial identities influence our experiences?’ in affinity groups,” Douglas stated. “An affinity group is a group formed around a shared interest.”
Those uncomfortable with the planned format will be put into a different group. This group will discuss, “Why are we even talking about racial identity?”
“This optional program was developed in close coordination with both the School Leadership Team, PTA, and families,” said Department of Education spokesperson Nathaniel Styer, who said it is “abundantly clear to both students and parents that anyone can opt-out of this two-day celebration if they desire.”
According to the Post, Douglas wrote she focuses on race because “students are talking about it since race has become a popular topic on social media, or parents are talking even more about it at home due to the recent incidents across the nation.”
The principal added that the school is 44 percent Asian, 29 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent black and has not addressed racial issues sufficiently in the past.
While some parents told the Post the school and teachers “know how to handle” the subject of race, others were not comfortable with the exercises, expressing concern they were adding to a climate of divisiveness.
“I think a lot of us feel like this is too much,” said one mother. “But most parents are too afraid to say anything at this point. Why are we separating our kids like this?”
A father said some families would prefer to prioritize traditional academic subjects rather than political issues.
“Teach the history,” he said. “Tell that story. I’m all for an honest accounting. But this is something different. It’s insidious.”