Carroll writes about a school district in Colorado that has given a six-figure consulting contract to Glenn Singleton’s Pacific Educational Group. Singleton is co-author of a book, Courageous Conversations About Race, which argues that the racial achievement gap can be explained by (and apparently only by), you guessed it, racism. As Carroll summarizes this view in the frst of the columns cited above:
“It is our belief that the most devastating factor contributing to the lowered achievement of students of color is institutionalized racism,” Singleton writes (with co-author Curtis Linton) in his recent book Courageous Conversations About Race. White teachers (and minority teachers co-opted into the white power structure) stymie black and Hispanic students because they fail to understand their cultures and how daily racial oppression affects their outlook. They also push a curriculum tooled for whites, and are ignorant of the special ways that blacks and Hispanics communicate.
“We will shine the light on racial dominance to uncover how Whiteness challenges the performance of students of color while shaping and reinforcing the racial perspective of White children,” Singleton and Linton promise.
“Special ways that blacks and Hispanics communicate”? Yes, indeed:
The program also promotes a worldview in which American society is relentlessly oppressive; in which individuals, even today, remain at the mercy of their racial origins; in which “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while “color commentary” is “nonverbal, personal, emotional” and “process-oriented.”
This bizarre view stereotypes blacks and Hispanics in exactly the same way that women are often stereotyped.
And what are the “courageous conversations” Singleton proposes? As Carroll writes, these are “conversations” that
follow a structured format in which participants examine and embrace specific premises, such as the ubiquity of white privilege and racism, and thus raise the consciousness of whites.
Participants must “come to recognize that race impacts every aspect of your life 100 percent of the time.” Meanwhile, “anger, guilt and shame are just a few of the emotions” whites should expect to experience “as they move toward greater understanding of Whiteness.”
Enlightened whites, in the authors’ description, speak in the chastened, cringing language of someone who has emerged from a re-education camp.
But if the domination of “Whiteness” explains everything, Carroll asks in his second column, “why are Asian students immune to their crippling effects?”
Good question. Singleton’s answer is, predictably, circular: Asidans do better because whites expect them to do better.
Singleton and Linton caution against any cultural explanation that can be construed as “asking the Black community to just ‘act White.’” So long as they insist on reducing an enormously complex matter to crude racial categories, however, it’s at least worth noting that there’s always the option of “acting Asian.” Is that offensive, too?
What is offensive is the crude racism of Singleton’s analysis, and the expenditure of at least $100,000 in public funds for his advice.