Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff
A book review by Thomas Jackson
Most people know that teachers and professors are well to the left of most Americans — their loonier antics sometimes make it into the press — but few outsiders any idea of the real designs “anti-racists” have on American children. Beyond Heroes and Holidays is a collection of 80-odd essays by “progressive” school teachers and education professors about how to use the classroom to fight “racism.” It is supposed to be a guide for training teachers and instructing students — but is nothing less than a field manual for the subversion of American society.
This is a characterization many of the authors would not dispute. Anyone who can drag himself through the more than 450 large- format pages of this book soon learns that everything in America — including the economic system — will have to be revamped in order to eradicate “racism.” The authors, who include education professors at well-regarded universities, have a mentality exactly like that of doctrinaire Marxists. Although they never mention Marx or Communism, and they write about “transformation” rather than “revolution,” they have the same totalitarian compulsion to control and reform every detail of our lives. They even have the equivalent of dialectical materialism. Just as Marxists used the dialectic to interpret reality, they use “critical thinking” to interpret everything — and I mean everything — in terms of “racism,” “sexism,” and a batch of other “isms.” What the “crits” have established is a militant, secular religion, with schools as churches and children as compulsory congregations.
The central message of this religion is that every group difference is proof of exploitation, and every form of exploitation has been perfected by whites. The history of whites is an unending chronicle of rapine and despoliation, and only when these sins have been atoned for and all group differences eradicated will there be justice.
The “crits” do not yet control society but they control what they teach: “All aspects of the curriculum [must] integrate multicultural, critical thinking and justice concepts and practice.” “Diversity and equity issues are integrated into all aspects of the teacher-training curriculum.” This is necessary because, as one of the editors of the book puts it with breath-taking finality, “The purpose of education in an unjust society is to bring about equality and justice.” Thus, “schools should be the place where students can analyze the forces which maintain injustice and develop the knowledge, hope and strategies needed to create a more just society for us all.”
In short, education is indoctrination and its purpose is political: “Every student whom we help to read and write is being provided with tools to defend herself or himself. We are helping prepare them for the onslaught of antihuman practices that this nation and other nations are facing today: racism, sexism, and the greed for money and human labor that disguises itself as “globalization.”
Success is measured by how many students can be turned into anti- racist fanatics, and properly managed students can be made to un- bosom grateful testimonials like: “I also learned that all the institutions in this country are inherently racist and exist for the purpose of maintaining the power and wealth of the dominant group.” (Emphasis added)
Because whites are the world’s biggest problem, the fight against “racism” begins with them. This book emphasizes over and over that “racism” is not just a matter of thoughts and acts. It is an entire way of being that permeates society, institutions, and whites as a group. We know most whites are openly, hopelessly “racist,” but what about the ones who think they are not? They must be made to under- stand that “racism” is not something practiced by other whites but is in the very marrow of their bones. As one anti-racist expert explains, his job is to take well-meaning white naïfs and give them “a new recognition of themselves as race-privileged, capable of racist thoughts and behaviors.” All whites are “racist” whatever their intentions, whereas no non-whites are “racist.”
This goes without saying for most of the authors, but one or two try to explain it. As Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley, a celebrated proponent of this goofiness explains, inherent “racism” is all about something called “unearned privilege:”
“I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.” “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.” “I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.” “I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.” “I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin.”
As Miss McIntosh explains, for non-whites these privileges are experienced as oppression. “Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in turn upon people of color,” she explains. Not recognizing and renouncing “privilege” is the same as oppressing non-whites.
Of course, nearly all the “privileges” Miss McIntosh describes are found just about everywhere. Japanese and Nigerians see people of their own race on television, too. A Frenchman living in Japan presumably suffers just like a black in America. There is the further implication that American whites gain some kind of stupendous advantage simply because non-whites live here. Having millions of poor, crime-prone, violent people among us gives us a great advantage over Norwegians, for example, who presumably don’t experience “white skin privilege” ten times a day the way we do. It beggars the imagination how anyone could have thought of anything so stupid but, as Miss McIntosh explains, it is vital to open whites’ eyes to how awful their country really is: “To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions.”
This doctrine of inherent racism is so weird and implausible it takes a lifetime to master it: “Because the ideology of White racial superiority is so deeply embedded in our culture, the process of “unlearning racism’ is a journey we [whites] need to continue throughout our lives.” “Keep in mind that learning about racial identity and racism is a lifelong process.” “Racism is learned, and it can be unlearned, but it takes a commitment to stay aware, to keep working and to accept the unlearning as a lifelong journey.”
The authors all agree that anti-racist education has to start just as soon as teachers get their hands on children. Even for preschoolers, we are to “integrate anti-bias issues into every theme,” and put toddlers through “activism activities” that will teach them that “injustice is not overcome by magic or by wishes, but that people make it happen and that each one of them can make it happen.”
Teachers must be ready to pounce whenever a child utters an act of oppression, and the book offers such improbable examples as: “People in wheelchairs can’t be mommies and daddies,” or (to a child with lesbian parents) “you can’t have two mommies,” or “she dresses like a Puerto Rican.”
One recommended exercise is to get a box of bandages, put them on black children, and jeer at any company that would claim they are “flesh colored.” Advanced subjects can be made to scratch out letters of protest to the company. Other lessons can be learned by getting children to designate parking spaces for handicapped people and having the children issue “tickets” to violators. Classroom walls should be covered with pictures that refute stereotypes: black doctors, white janitors, people in wheelchairs at the beach, etc.
Day care staff should rewrite children’s books. The story of the three pigs, for example, implies that European-style brick buildings are superior to Third-World straw and stick houses. The wolf should be changed into an elephant that blasts water from its trunk. The Third- World house of sticks survives because it is on stilts while the brick house floods.
Another “teaching tool” is to get parents of toddlers to come to class and “share” experiences of “racism.” But it is best to get children themselves on the march. Trot them down to greeting card stores to yell because there aren’t “cards or decorations for non dominant holidays.” Or, says one author, preschoolers can be made to protest non-union fruit [!]. Better still, children can be put to work for the staff’s own selfish interests. The book actually recommends that little ones be taught “why better wages are necessary for child care center staff,” and be recruited to help teachers “working in their union to get smaller classroom sizes.”
Once children are older, there are countless techniques for attacking “the dominant culture,” and the book suggests particularly lively ways to take the stuffing out of whites. Children can pretend to be Congressmen debating the Indian Removal Act of 1830, or can try to think of all the evil motives for the Chinese Exclusion Acts of the 19th century. They should put on a mock trial of “the profit system” as the cause of the drug trade, as they consider “drugs as a weapon against the Black community.” Students can draw cartoons about the “racism” they experience, or can collect tourist brochures about Hawaii and note that they fail to mention that whites seized the islands and raped the culture. They can discuss why Thanksgiving Day can be thought of as a day of mourning, or take turns answering the question: “What is your earliest recollection of being excluded because of your race or culture?” Whites can keep diaries of the unearned privileges they enjoy each day. Children can pretend to be Congressmen at the 1870s hearings on KKK violence. To learn about today’s Klan, they should get anti-Klan activists — not Klan members — to speak to the class. Students should be trained in “critical literacy,” which is the ability to detect oppressive messages in books, newspapers, and advertising. A very common theme is to get students to devise “action plans” for combating “racism” in their schools.
Clearly, the object is to rear up fanatical little busy-bodies who will be a kind of anti-racist Red Guard. It is important constantly to remind children of oppression, and never to let the favored groups forget they are victims. One workshop “to explore and celebrate what it is like to be a girl,” was a success because participants later said things like, “I learned that too many young women are being disrespected by young men.”
In one school, “activist” teachers got students to start a Let’s-Stop- Racism-in-Our School campaign. (One complaint had been that a girl said a teacher told her to “prove others wrong and not get pregnant by the age of sixteen like all the other Puerto Rican girls.”) At their first session, how did they prepare for the campaign? “Students reenacted the forced migration of over fifty million Africans brought to the Americas and sold into slavery, and the slaughtering of Native Americans for land and gold.”
How’s it selling?
The publisher of this manual of subversion initially printed 15,000 copies — a very respectable first print run — and reports having sold 6,500. No fewer than 80 colleges and universities use the text in their education programs. Philadelphia and Long Beach, California, use it for teacher training, and Washington, DC, is seriously considering it. Readers might check to see if children in day care centers in their area have started marching to protest non-union fruit.
Heroes and Holidays
The title of this book makes the point that tacking a few non-white heroes onto the curriculum or eating tacos on Cinco de Mayo is not good enough. Every lesson in every subject must be propaganda. Besides, whooping up the occasional distinguished Negro may give the false impression that talented non-whites can get ahead in America. Nevertheless, to supplement the usual study of King and Harriet Tubman, the authors recommend that students look into 150 or so lesser-known “activists for social change.” On the list are Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Morris Dees, Marcus Garvey, and the two slave insurrectionists Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey. Chief Crazy Horse is identified as a “Native American rights activist.” Still, the book warns that we should be careful with the idea of heroes because it gives the impression that individuals actually count for something, whereas we all know that it is groups that “empower.”
“Heritage celebrations” also must be handled carefully. Making much of national costumes and unfamiliar food is wrong because it suggests foreigners are exotic and Americans are normal. Also, when food and pageantry are taken by themselves “they mask the obstacles that people of color have faced, [and] how they have confronted those obstacles …” Lots of oppression must therefore be worked into all exercises of this kind, and they cannot be called “international” because that suggests things can be foreign to America.
Language is an important part of the multiculti cult: “In our racist, sexist, classist and hetereosexist society, our decisions about word usage are political decisions.” For example, Irish peasants live in “cottages” but we have been trained to say Africans live in mere “huts.” Likewise, to speak of “slaves” and “masters” implies that status is inherent. It is better to speak of “enslaved Africans,” and really “transformative” people say “African people stolen from their families and societies.”
One author notes that whites are only ten percent of the world population. In an American context, “use of the word “minority,’ therefore, obscures this global reality and reinforces racist assumptions.” We are always to say “people of color,” a term which “was borne out of an explicitly political statement that signaled a solidarity among progressive African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
Anti-racists agonize over black English. They would never say it is bad English, and instead complain about “the arbitrariness of designating one variety [of English] over another as “standard.’ ” “On the other hand, it is equally important to understand that students who do not have access to the politically popular dialect form in this country … are less likely to succeed economically … How can both realities be embraced?” The trick is to call black English a dialect and try to help blacks become “bi-dialectical.” When a student asks “Who do dat?” you do not “correct” him; you encourage him to translate into the politically popular dialect.
We must have bilingual education for immigrants, because expecting them to learn English is “racist.” One author writes that “in a moment of generosity” one could imagine that English-only advocates just want newcomers to assimilate and get ahead, but that would be wrong. As he points out, white women speak English as well as white men, but don’t earn as much money. Therefore, since speaking English doesn’t lead to equality, the English-only people can be shown to be the racist frauds they really are. Thus, “language policy in the United States continues to be used as an effective tool to control access to social, economic and political resources.”
Math classes must be indoctrination, too. Inequities in income, the number of blacks in jail, unemployment rates by race — studying these makes math “a tool to interpret and challenge inequities in our society.” In the right hands, math can “uncover stereotypes, understand history, and examine issues of inequality.” Pure science is harder to turn into propaganda but instruction can be “transformed to consider how science itself is conceptualized, valued and practiced by those who have traditionally been outside the scientific mainstream” — whatever that may mean.
The anti-racists hate free markets and world trade. The profit motive is a gruesome thing that “values property over people,” but is beaten into all Americans: “Where do people learn the values of this system? Just think back to elementary school. Columbus, who killed hundreds of Native Americans in his search for gold, is touted as a hero.” Here are some basic economic concepts:
“Wealthy countries became wealthy by exploiting the resources of the Southern countries.”
“The colonial and capitalist systems, which grew up together, were also inherently and inescapably racist.”
“The world financial system is a greater cause of hunger in Africa than is bad weather.”
If teachers do their jobs they will be rewarded with student comments like:
“I had not previously understood that capitalism requires keeping a large group of people in extreme poverty, and is deliberately and purposefully racist, promoting divisions among people in order for the dominant group to maintain political, economic, and social power and control …”
Oddly, none of this leads to outright advocacy of Communism, and neither Marx nor Mao is on the list of sainted “social activists.” It is unclear what will replace capitalism in the anti-racist paradise.
Hating White People
Ultimately this brand of “anti-racism” shows its true colors as a religion — the religion of hating white people. It has a few other doctrines but they all derive from racism: “we must ask how sexism, classism, and linguicism [?] are part of this oppression called racism.” (emphasis in the original) It is a religion that calls for total devotion. As one author explains, “We must grapple with both [individual and institutional “racism”] at every moment of our lives.”
Like all fanatics, these people cannot see obvious contradictions. Over and over we hear that all children must have positive self-images and yet even science lessons must be stuffed with anti-white propaganda. There is incessant talk of fighting stereotypes — except for one: the wicked white man. America is a cesspool of “racism,” but non-white immigrants are quite right to want to come. This book purports to promote multiculturalism, but its myriad “celebrations” leave no room for Western Civilization. In fact, Western Civilization is just another name for evil “isms.” As the authors say repeatedly, their goal is to transform every institution in the country. This is nothing less than an open declaration of war on Western Civilization — and a veiled declaration of war on the people who built it.
There are a few worthy whites — John Brown, Morris Dees, Andrew Goodman, Fidel Castro, Gloria Steinem — but every one is a radical critic of his own society and people. In the minds of these authors the only role left to whites as a group is that of demons to be routed by heroic non-whites. This book is full of photographs, but of the hundreds of faces in them, perhaps three percent are white.
It would be a mistake to think that this hostile, warped cult is of interest only because its practitioners are poisoning the minds of your children. White-hatred is the inevitable consequence of the doctrine of racial egalitarianism. So long as the “mainstream” denies racial differences, and agrees that “racism” is the blackest of all sins, there will always be anti-racist fanatics who will stop at nothing to eradicate this evil. The anti-racists do not have to transform all our institutions. They already have.