Evidence submitted to The Daily Wire by whistleblower teachers in Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) reveals how educators are being pressured into pushing critical race theory (CRT) in their classrooms.
The full video course, titled “Advancing Equity Through Continuous Reflection: Self Assessment,” was used to train Language Arts teachers in Virginia Beach during the fall of 2020. While I recommend watching the full 22 minutes (as it is a revealing specimen of cult indoctrination propaganda), I’ve summarized it below, including my own commentary as a teacher who experienced radical CRT brainwashing early in my career.
Over the course of the video you can see how teachers are primed to accept increasingly radical statements, how cult indoctrination techniques soften their psychological defenses and, finally, how induced insecurity is leveraged to guilt teachers into becoming radical activists in the classrooms and beyond. The culmination of the 22 minute course reveals a chilling guided activity in which teachers are literally asked to practice “confronting” their “racist” colleagues about offensive statements like “everyone is equal in my class.” It’s a wild ride.
Right away, the facilitator in the upper right corner warns the teachers: “This work may not be turnkey, in fact it’s not even intended to be,” going on to vaguely assert “it is our work.” She then quickly reassures confused language arts teachers that “equity starts in literacy,” so this will allow us to “continue” with that focus. (“Equity” trainings are just a component of literacy trainings — it’s all the same, can’t you see?) That’s the last time we will hear about literacy.
By the 5-minute mark, the facilitator introduces the real goal: “continuous reflection.” “Let’s go even deeper,” she says. “We need to critically self-assess through ongoing examination of our implicit and explicit biases.” Immediately recognizing this classic CRT indoctrination technique, a chill goes down my spine.
Cults will often encourage members to mull over a topic continuously because doing so eventually muddies their convictions. Once a person is caught in a loop of self-doubt, they are malleable. Some religious cults, for example, will advise members to meditate on a doctrine “until they know that it is true.” While I don’t suspect that this facilitator is a cult mastermind, or even a Marxist scholar, it’s important to realize that cultish techniques can self-propagate within an ideological movement without any conscious intent on the part of participants. CRT relies heavily on this psychological phenomenon.
We are then told that recognizing bias is only the “first step.” Indeed we are at a “fork in the road;” we must start thinking about “action.” “So,” she asks, “what are those actions we can take?”
As we will soon learn — after we are prepped with a bit more brainwashing — “action” entails “conscious” racial bean-counting in all areas of life, as well as proactively interrogating ourselves and everyone around us for thoughtcrimes.
She explains, “in our new work together” we will “talk about what we can do when, in conversations, these biases occur.” She lists a variety of biases, noting gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and others. However, today, we will “focus on race.” “This is our chance to really lean in and grapple with our discomfort” and “grapple with what that means to have a bias.”
Another red flag! Back in my Teach For America days we used to joke about a drinking game where we drink whenever a higher-up tells us to “grapple.” This word is used all the time in CRT education trainings for a reason. The intention is to get teachers to uproot their moral foundations. If you have a strong conviction you are, by definition, failing to “grapple.” Thus, you must interrogate your own strong convictions until they feel shaky.
Back to the video. The facilitator now attempts an amazing rhetorical sleight of hand: she offers a brand new definition of “bias.”
Bias, she claims, is the idea that “some ideas or people are better than others.” She speaks that line quickly, but it’s significant. To be clear, she is asserting that you are guilty of “bias” if you think some ideas are better than others. This has huge implications for what can be considered “racist” going forward in the context of this training and beyond. It also establishes a dangerous premise, that dissent to this ideology itself may be interpreted by others (including one’s employer) as a form of bias.
Next we learn about the types of bias, including implicit bias, which she defined as “beliefs about others that are outside of our conscious awareness.” Implicit biases, she explains, play out in ways that are “hidden,” which presents a challenge: “how can we address those?” She does not even begin to address the even more fundamental question, which is why it is beneficial at all, and indeed not itself an act of bias, to interrogate others about biases that are both “unconscious” and “hidden.” It is in these moments we understand why this ideology must adopt seemingly nonsensical and blatantly racist premises such as “rational thought is white culture.”
To answer this burning question, the facilitator then queues up a video titled “Racist? Not Racist? Anti Racist?” This is where things begin to get spicy.
Predictably, it begins with the now familiar yet slippery claim that being “not racist” and being “anti-racist” are “two different things.” One of the first speakers asserts that “saying I’m not a racist” is like “witnessing someone being jumped” and simply standing by, saying “it wasn’t me,” whereas being an anti-racist is “speaking out” and “making sure it never happens again.”
The gaslighting in this video is thick, which is why it is so subversive. The speakers are calm, likable, and appear earnest. However, their confidently asserted moral claims always contain shades of truth and falsity, which makes the viewer feel a distinct moral tension. The viewer, especially a white viewer, may feel simultaneously special (morally elevated even) in the moments in which they agree with the speaker, yet icky and shamed in the moments in which they’re not sure if they agree. The toxic mix of specialness and shame, tied to agreement and disagreement, makes the viewer insecure in their moral integrity, which leads them to crave the approval of the speaker, who now functions as a moral leader.
Here’s an example of how that emotional tension builds: A pleasant young female speaker states, “when most people think racism..they think of the KKK, or they think of slavery,” a statement which, while spoken in a reasonable and earnest tone, is actually a subtle slander of our culture as a whole, and specifically of white viewers, the vast majority of whom fully comprehend that racism is both subtle and ubiquitous. However, she follows with a gentle and true statement that leaves many teachers bobbing their heads in agreement: “when that is your perception..it’s very easy to say ‘well I would never do that’…which is valid, but it’s more nuanced than that.” It’s subtle, but the speaker has just made two claims, one false, and one true, and packaged them as one; a rhetorical trojan horse. Craving her approval, the audience wills themselves to accept her claims in full.
With her subtle comment about “most people,” the speaker is also beginning to gently draw the viewer into the toxic ‘us vs them’ mentality by setting up a dichotomy between the wise ‘anointed’ few vs the pitiful, bigoted masses. Out of intense desire to be one of the “good” white people, the teacher participant begins to actively override her doubts about the more questionable portion of the claim. This is CRT training in a nutshell.
To black viewers the message is subtly different, but dovetails nicely with the Marxist goal of sowing mutual distrust. To them the speakers are saying this: “Most white people do not empathize with you. They are moral infants who oppress you through their ignorance, and your only option is to take on the weary task of attempting to educate them.” The message to black teachers is so utterly demoralizing that it’s a small miracle that any are able to emerge from these “anti-racism” trainings retaining any sense of shared humanity with their white colleagues.
Next, a male speaker likens being “not racist” to bunting the ball in baseball, whereas being “anti-racist” is to try to hit a home run. At this point, the sales pitch for “anti-racism” is strong. It’s easy to forget, however, that we still haven’t been told which “actions” are actually entailed in “anti-racism.” It doesn’t matter. Many of the teachers are already sold. They want to hit a homerun, not just bunt.
At minute 9 we are introduced to an individual I’ll call “The Big Boss,” a bald middle-aged woman who speaks with magnetic authority. Her confidence imbues an air of “common sense” to assertions that are neither commonly held nor self evident. (Returning to the theme of cults, there is a reason why we almost always find a “charismatic leader” at the center. Psychologically, humans feel strongly compelled to trust leaders who speak with ringing confidence, no matter how radical their claims may be.)
As if sensing the internal struggle that viewers are feeling, The Big Boss begins with some bold advice: “one of the most freeing things that any white person can do is to just say ‘of course I’m racist.’”
Just give in! She is offering white teachers a chance to release the tension they are feeling, to reconcile the cognitive dissonance. For many, this advice, proffered at this moment, is highly seductive.
She goes on to make an analogy between a baby raised in a French-speaking home and Americans raised in a racism-speaking society. “Our society speaks racism!” she proclaims, as if undisputed fact, “it has spoken racism since we were born,” so, “of course you are racist!”
“The idea that this blanket of ideas has fallen on everyone’s head except for yours is magical thinking!” she exclaims, laughing robustly.
Essentially, we are told, teachers are engaged in “magical thinking” if they disagree with any of her claims. They must be mentally unwell, illogical, or worse…racist.
Then things really go further off the rails. We get a flurry of questionable advice dressed up, as always, as pure common sense.
- “This stuff will never change until people become comfortable with having these uncomfortable conversations. You have to do it.” (Endlessly?)
- “Having these conversations” with “family members” who harbor “toxic beliefs about black people” is “the difference between non racist and anti-racist.” (Got that? You must actively identify racism in family members and confront it.)
- “To do nothing is to affirm the status quo of some bodies being afforded resources, access, opportunities and other bodies being literally killed.” (Do you understand? Literal blood is on your hands!)
It’s at this point that The Big Boss goes in for the kill shot. “If you really are a person who says I believe everyone is equal”, then ask yourself, “is your bookshelf equal? Are the restaurants that you go to equal? Are the physicians and professionals that you hire in your life equal? Is your social media feed equal?” In an emotional grand finale, The Big Boss lays out the CRT path to redemption: obsessive, evangelical, and perpetual racial bean-counting in all aspects of life. Color consciousness, she preaches, “is how we start to change things.”
We return to the powerpoint with the facilitator in the upper right. Teachers are asked to reflect. An “antiracism” chart, attributed to Ibram X Kendi, graces the screen. The chart includes concentric circles labeled “fear,” “learning,” and “growth,” with phrases in each, including “I am vulnerable about my biases and knowledge gaps,” “I sit with my discomfort,” and “I yield positions of power to those otherwise marginalized,” etc. Teachers are given several minutes of silence to reflect where they are in “the work.”
Finally, time for an “activity.” After learning some “professional” phrases for “confronting” colleagues about their racism, the teachers have a chance to roleplay in small groups. They will practice responding to common “racist” comments they may hear in educational settings, including (and no, this is not a joke), “in my classroom everyone is equal.” The presentation concludes and participants are released to perform “anti-racism” in front of their peers and their watchful employer.
I experienced similar subversion first-hand ten years ago while participating in a program called Teach For America (an experience I’ve addressed online, and which I’ll share in more detail in the future). I can personally attest that the pressure is extraordinarily strong. The line between CRT and authentic anti-racism teachings from leaders like Dr Martin Luther King Jr. can feel incredibly blurry, especially to idealistic young teachers who are deeply troubled by the inequality they see. Further, the social cost of questioning the ideology out loud, even with peers, is staggering. As we see in the video, if you don’t affirm this racialized Marxist view of the world, you deserve to be laughed at. Worse, you are no longer part of the “us”; you have outed yourself as part of the ignorant, evil “them.”
The biggest challenge is that many teachers, despite their discomfort, feel they can’t say no to these trainings. For example, according to documents and statements provided by whistleblowers in VBCPS, earning a “badge” in “Culturally Responsive Teaching” is a significant factor in both employment and promotion to administration within the district. The sad fact, in my experience, is that even the most resilient teachers, including those who quietly oppose CRT training, are ultimately susceptible to it if they are exposed long enough. It grinds you down. In some districts, schools are mandating “anti-racism” training as frequently as once a week.
This article is part of my ongoing effort to report on CRT in schools and public institutions. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback and stories from your community. I also joined instagram, find me @GeorgiaMaeHowe.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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Author: Georgia Howe