Thurman Says Administration Should Have Vetted "White Privilege" Presentation; Jones Says Talk Was "About The Life We Live"

Friday, August 16, 2019
Karitsa Mosley Jones
Karitsa Mosley Jones

County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said the county school administration should have vetted a recent controversial presentation on "white privilege" at a teacher in-service training.

However, board member Karitsa Mosley Jones said there was nothing wrong with the program by an outside speaker. She said, "That's the life we live.

It's the life our students live. It's the life our teachers live. It's America."

Ms. Thurman said she met with Supt. Bryan Johnson for over an hour on Wednesday on the issue, saying she has been getting numerous phone calls about it.

She said Dr. Johnson said the administration routinely checks out outside talks, but this speaker said he was "on the road" so there was no preview of his presentation.

Ms. Thurman said she has seen numerous slides as well as a video of the talk and said the content was "just ridiculous." She said it could lead white teachers and white students to be "fearful" in some circumstances. 

She also said that the fallout about the talk "cast a bad light on Bayside Baptist Church where it was held. How many churches will now let us use their facilities?" 

Ms. Jones said it was a "talk that has been made across America. I hear it all the time. I learned about it in graduate school in 2004.

She said, "It is what it is. It's not new. It's really frustrating that in 2019 we are at this dais talking about this."

Ms. Jones said, "It's a procedure. It's freedom of speech."

She said she would not attend a policy committee meeting where the item was discussed.

Only board member Steve Highlander said he agreed with Ms. Thurman on adding a policy that requires having the presentations of all outside speakers checked out before hand.

One slide from the recent speaker says, "White privilege is both a legacy and a cause of racism." 

The slide also says, "White privilege exists because of historic, enduring racism and biases."

Another slide says of 'white privilege':

- Less likely to be followed, interrogated or searched by law enforcement

- Skin tone will not affect their credit or financial responsibility

- When accused of crime, portrayed as good person

- Don't lose opportunities when mistakes are made

A slide on Racism says:

- People of color cannot be racist because they lack the institutional power to affect white lives

- Even if minorities sometimes complain about whites, such complaints serve as coping mechanisms to withstand racism rather than actual anti-white bias

- Even when minorities express or practice racism against whites, they are not racists.

Rhonda Thurman
Rhonda Thurman

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