Category Archives: Race and race relations

Combating the Great Awokening

Read about woke math in National Review.

by James A. Bacon

Outside of the People’s Republic of Charlottesville, Northern Virginia is the most lopsidedly Democratic region of Virginia. It is also the most woke, and it is pushing the so-called “equity” agenda in schools more aggressively than anywhere else in the state. But the educrats have over-reached, pushing too far, too fast, and much of the population is up in arms. Insurgent groups are popping up over Northern Virginia, mobilizing support through social media, raising money to take back school boards, and using investigative-journalism techniques to delve into topics that local media refuse to cover.

The Washington Post has covered the Great Awokening in Northern Virginia schools only anecdotally. The region’s dominant newspaper has devoted none of its investigative resources to probing school board machinations and excesses as it has with, say, racism at the Virginia Military Institute. Citizens have been on their own to figure out what is going on.

Fortunately, one of those citizens is Asra Nomani, a parent of a student at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology who became outraged by the Fairfax School system’s equity-driven assault on the school’s admissions practices. A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she fought back with the tactics she knew. Linking up with other super-savvy Northern Virginia moms to create Parents Defending Education (see the leadership team here) the India-born Nomani has wielded the Freedom of Information Act like a Gurkha kukri to hack out the story that the mainstream media has been unable or unwilling to tell. Continue reading

CRT and Virginia History

“I have a dream.”

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Over the past few months, there has been considerable commentary on Bacon’s Rebellion regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT). Many on this blog seem to genuinely fear that this theory, or frame of reference, presents an existential threat to society, with our schools becoming centers of “Marxist indoctrination.”

Before discussing the legitimacy of this antagonism regarding CRT, it is useful to define it. James Sherlock, who is the leading commenter on this blog raising the alarm about CRT, defines it thusly:

“It postulates that racism is the driving force in society, that in order to understand power relations, in order to understand institutions such as the law, education, the Constitution, social relations, you have to understand that through the lens of race.” Continue reading

The New Racism: Fairfax Schools Edition

In impassioned remarks at a public hearing, Asra Nomani blistered the Fairfax County School Board for its anti-Asian educational policies, as seen in the video clip above. Nomani is well known to Bacon’s Rebellion readers as a leader protesting school board actions to stack the deck for admissions to the elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology against high-achieving Asian students in the name of “equity.”

Watch the clip. It’s about three minutes long. Nomani refers to a laughable survey conducted by Fairfax County schools on racial attitudes, which you can read about here. She also refers to the NYC Leadership Academy, an executive “training” firm that indoctrinates school officials in proper thinking about “culturally competent leadership,” which Fairfax schools are paying as much as $467 per hour for training and coaching. You can see the contract here.

— JAB

Race and Redemption

Bacon’s Rebellion normally does not republish campaign literature. We happily accept op-ed pieces from political candidates as long as they address substantive public policy issues, but otherwise I like to keep a healthy distance from office seekers. Today I make a partial exception. Jack White, a Northern Virginia attorney seeking the Republican nomination for Attorney General, has written the most compelling campaign letter I have seen this year. I don’t endorse White because we don’t do endorsements. But his message — in which a Black man critiques Critical Race Theory — is one that transcends the 2021 campaign season. His perspective needs to be heard. What follows is an extract of that letter with the campaign rhetoric omitted. — JAB

Jack White

I want to tell you about the true source of my conservatism, because that is the best way to know me. My conservatism is inextricably intertwined with my faith. After all, if government were the solution to every problem in our nation, then why would we follow God?!?

When you understand the Gospel, then you understand that it is all about Life & Redemption: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …and the Word became flesh, and we beheld His glory.” That is Life: God giving us Christ incarnate. Life is not just an idea; it is the beginning of the Gospel Story. Then sin entered the picture, requiring Redemption. Christ came for that very purpose. As a result, everything I do focuses on God’s precious gift of Life and the reason for Christ: Redemption. Continue reading

Virginia’s Math Path Could Erode Equity

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by Andy Rotherham

Years ago Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Bud Spillane had a plan to collapse early grades K-2 into an ability group approach. He went around the county explaining the approach to parents. They generally liked it because it offered customization and a more individualized experience.

Then, at some point parents starting asking, “but how will I know when my kid is in the first grade?” And pretty soon the idea fell apart. What Tyack and Cuban call the “grammar of schooling” is indeed potent. People like conceptual approaches; they like knowing when their kid is in first grade more.

I suspect the same fate will befall this idea in Virginia to change the sequence and scope of middle and high school math in the name of “equity.” It sort of already is. As soon as the idea made contact with parents and media the state superintendent submarined it and the Department of Education overhauled its website.

The Washington Post wrote a somewhat credulous story about the whole thing largely blaming the confusion on conservative media, that’s the lede. They changed the website! (Democracy updates the html in darkness?) This Virginia Mercury story has more texture. If you have no hobbies, here and here are some video discussions of the issues you can watch. Weirdly, an idea floated to do away with the state’s advanced studies diploma hasn’t set off the same firestorm. Continue reading

GMU Cites “Diversity” to Justify Goals for Hiring Nonwhite Staff

GMU President Gregory Washington

by Hans Bader

The president of George Mason University wants to give minorities a big advantage in hiring until the faculty is as heavily minority as the school’s student body and the future, mostly non-white U.S. population. This is illegal, say lawyers and law professors. Indeed, GMU’s president, Gregory Washington, recognized that objection in an April 15 email to the university’s faculty, before saying it wouldn’t stop him from giving minorities a preference in hiring. Washington quoted a professor as saying:

I am concerned about what it really means to hire faculty and staff that ‘reflect the student population.’ The university’s job as an R1 institution is to hire the best faculty and administrators, period. The type of target hiring of minorities proposed through ARIE is both prejudicial and illegal. I would like to have this addressed.

In response, GMU’s president wrote, “If you have two candidates who are both ‘above the bar’ in terms of requirements for a position, but one adds to your diversity and the other does not, then why couldn’t that candidate be better, even if that candidate may not have better credentials than the other candidate? Study after study has proven that the most diverse organizations, which recognize the importance of maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment, are the best performing organizations.” Continue reading

Still Clueless After All These Years

by James A. Bacon

In his latest hit job on the Virginia Military Institute, the Washington Post’s Ian Shapira weaves into his account responses to questions submitted to Governor Ralph Northam in writing. Northam, who served as president of the Honor Court and graduated from the Institute in 1981, comes across as totally clueless.

“I don’t remember seeing racism aimed at Black cadets, but I’m sure it happened,” said Northam, without offering any specifics on how he’s sure. As a cadet, he focused mainly on surviving VMI’s academic and military-training challenges, he said. “I didn’t fully understand how subtle [racism] is. … I had the privilege of not having to see it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.”

If the racism was so subtle that Northam didn’t see it, that might be an indication that racism wasn’t as horrendous as he now believes — based largely on Shapira’s portrayal. Either he was clueless then, or he is clueless now. Continue reading

WaPo Reduces VMI to a Black-and-White Morality Tale

by James A. Bacon

The latest blockbuster finding in The Washington Post’s jihad against the Virginia Military Institute: African-American cadets experienced racism four decades ago.

According to interviews with 12 African Americans who attended VMI at the same time as Governor Ralph Northam around 1980, black cadets endured frequent racist insults. They were uncomfortable with the veneration of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson. Some believed blacks were disproportionately harassed in the Ratline, and some said they were discounted for leadership positions because of their race. Two insisted that the Honor Court expelled them for cheating they did not commit.

Some of the anecdotes make for distressing reading. There is value in reminding ourselves what the African-American pioneers of integration at VMI had to endure. My problem is not with the perspectives highlighted by the Post but the perspectives that were ignored because they don’t fit its narrative of persistent and ongoing systemic racism. The country has changed in the past 40 years, but the Post won’t admit it.

Reporter Ian Shapira draws a straight line between the racism of 40 years past and racism at the Institute today. He quotes Darren McDew, who graduated from VMI and became a four-star Air Force General. “I’ve been saddened by what I’ve read about VMI,” he said, “but I am not surprised. No organization is immune from these problems.” Continue reading

Guilty As Sin

Scott Lingamfelter

by Scott Lingamfelter

The recent and tragic death of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minnesota is the latest in a series of controversies concerning race and law enforcement in America. Floyd has now become a poignant symbol of what people say is “systemic racism” in America. So, is racism truly systemic? Is it a matter of fixing a system as one would repair a leaky faucet or a fire hydrant knocked from its foundation by an uncontrolled vehicle? Or is it deeper than that?

When I was young, I was raised in the Capital of the “Old South,” Richmond, Virginia, where my white church-going parents who brought me into this world taught me right from wrong. They taught me racism was wrong. But the racial contrast was stark in my Richmond neighborhood.

My father, a dermatologist, had his office on Monument Avenue where Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue towered above a grassy circle adjacent to the Lee Medical Building. And not far from the long shadow it cast over gentrified homes nearby, there stood another neighborhood. That one housed impoverished black people who lived in a world of separate water fountains, seats in the back of the bus, and no stools for them in the local restaurants that we enjoyed. Their world was not my world. Mine was one of freedom and opportunity. Theirs was dominated by “Jim Crow” laws that treated blacks as second-class citizens. Continue reading

Racist Nurses Need Indoctrination, Too, UVa Agrees

Milania Harris and Zara Alisa

by Walter Smith

After the widely publicized killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last year, University of Virginia nursing students Milania Harris and Zara Alisa founded Advocates for Medical Equality. Their mission was to confront bias, bigotry and racism in healthcare. They won a Martin Luther King, Jr., UVA Health System Award for their efforts, and even a got a big splash in UVA Today.

I admire anyone who carves out time from studies and other student pursuits for the goal of making the world a better place. But I do find it ironic that these two ladies won an award named after a man who wanted people to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin — in this case by creating a program based on measuring outcomes by color of skin.

Moreover, I am not a little dismayed that the administration lauds, and its house organ UVA Today regularly gives a platform to, students, faculty and alumni who excoriate the United States, Virginia, and the university itself for racism while never — and I mean never — profiling members of the university community who might think differently. Continue reading

Is U.S. 460 Really a “Race Trap” for Blacks?

Fatal traffic accident on U.S. 460 in Isle of Wight County, March 2018. Photo Credit: WAVY TV.

by James A. Bacon

On April 17 The Virginian-Pilot published an article with the following headline: “Not a speed trap, a race trap: Black Virginians say they’ve been racially profiled in and around Windsor for decades.”

The highly publicized traffic-stop encounter in which two white policemen pepper-sprayed Caron Nazario, a black army lieutenant, on U.S. 460, was not an anomaly, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Quoting the experiences of eight black former Virginia State University students and faculty, the newspaper provided anecdotal evidence that blacks have been targeted for ticketing by the three Ws, the towns of Windsor, Wakefield and Waverly.

“We as African Americans have traditionally acquiesced to the racial power dynamics that are displayed throughout policing on 460,” said Zoe Spencer, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at VSU. “And while I believe Lt. Nazario’s situation was absolutely egregious, I would hypothesize that he is in no way the only one that experienced that kind of treatment.”

Clearly, there is a perception among many blacks that they are targeted for traffic offenses along U.S. 460. But is that perception based on reality? Are black motorists in Windsor and other small towns along U.S. 460 really stopped, ticketed and even dragged out of their cars because of their race? Continue reading

Journalism, Confirmation Bias and the Presumption of Racism

Windsor police officer Joe Guttierez addresses Caron Nazario after their infamous confrontation. Presumed racist until proven innocent.

by James A. Bacon

People believe what they want to believe. They seek information that affirms their worldview, and they downplay or ignore evidence that conflicts with it. Psychologists have term for this proclivity: “confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias is extremely well documented in the psychological literature. Everyone falls prey to it. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. It doesn’t matter how well educated you are. Indeed, the higher a person’s IQ and education level, the more adept one is at explaining away data that does not conform with his or her beliefs.

As a facet of human nature, confirmation bias has been with us always. But the rise of social media and cable news has compounded the problem by making it easier than ever for people to find views and facts they find comfortable and to not only dispel disconcerting information but to avoid even hearing it in the first place.

The scholars, journalists, artists, and politicians who dominate the cultural discourse in the United States are prone to confirmation bias like everyone else. But their views carry more weight because they control most of the news media, social media platforms, book publishers, academia, social-scientific research, television, movies, museums, nonprofit advocacy groups, and increasingly, K-12 schools. To the extent that there is no escaping the anecdotal facts and images that they highlight and project as reality, their confirmation biases become society’s confirmation biases. Their narratives become society’s narratives. Continue reading

Here’s What You Look Like to a Traffic Cop

by James A. Bacon

After a recent incident in which two Windsor policemen stopped black army officer Caron Nazario, pepper sprayed him, and forced him out of his car and onto the ground, the driving-while-black phenomenon is back in the news. Most people would agree that the behavior of the senior officer, Joe Gutierrez, was highly unprofessional, indeed egregious, but no tangible evidence has surfaced to suggest that the behavior was racially motivated. That hasn’t stopped the media from treating it as a racial incident and accusing the Windsor police department from profiling and halting black drivers.

I will have more to say about the Windsor traffic stop in a later post. For now, I want to make a prefatory point: It’s a lot harder to determine the race of a motorist while driving than one would think. Indeed, it is usually impossible.

I spend a lot of time walking around my neighborhood. People are friendly. When they drive by in a car, they often wave. Even though they are driving slowly — the speed limit on our streets is only 14 miles per hour — I can almost never identify the person inside the car. I wave back, but I almost never know whom I’ve waving to. That got me to thinking… Continue reading

School-Discipline Statistics Straight out of an Opium Fog

State administrator dreaming up race metrics for school discipline… Oh, no, sorry, that’s an addict in an opium den.

by James A. Bacon

Several years ago, the Obama administration, the ACLU, and social-justice groups took a look at the disparate rates at which black and white students were being suspended from school or referred to law-enforcement authorities. The notion of the school-to-prison pipeline was born, and a movement took hold — first in select localities subjects to lawsuits and then from top-down pressure from the Virginia Department of Education to “reform” student discipline procedures in public schools.

School discipline has been heating up as an issue in Virginia since 2014 at least, and the first localities began altering their disciplinary guidelines around 2016. Since then, all school systems have been brought to heel to a greater or lesser degree. The old system system, organized around meting out punishments, taking offenders out of class, and referring the worst cases to law enforcement, was replaced with one built around the therapeutic approach of coaching, de-escalation, “restorative justice,” and returning discipline-challenged students to the classroom.

But a funny thing happened. Despite the overhaul and a dramatic decline in the number of punishments dished out, disciplinary disparities did not disappear. A new report to the State Board of Education, “Discipline Disproportionality: Measurement and Reporting,” indicates that black students still comprise 22% of all student enrollments but 54% of all students suspended. Continue reading

GOP and Virginia Election Laws, Part I

by Steve Haner

Let us elevate a discussion from the comment string to the main page:  Having examined Richard Hall-Sizemore’s offered examples of Virginia Republicans seeking to discourage voting in Virginia, I reject his assertion (part of a coordinated national campaign) that those bills “would result in fewer people voting.”

The broadest Republican bill he pointed to, Senate Bill 1459 offered by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment, R-James City, basically returned voting rules to the situation in 2019.  It restored the requirement for photo identification, with the option of a provisional ballot.  With a provisional ballot allowed, how would that “result in fewer people voting?” Continue reading