A Raleigh, N.C., parent is not too pleased after her second-grade son came home from Hunter Magnet Elementary with a sheet explaining white privilege.
According to WTVD-TV, the incident occurred last month. Amber Pabon saw the two-sided sheet of paper in her son’s folder, with one side discussing white representation in the government, media and education, and the other side listing examples of white privilege in our society.
Pabon’s issue? She thinks that kind of lesson should be left up to parents.
“I think the message itself is inappropriate because, yes, there is racism out here, and they need to learn about it. But let the parents do that,” Pabon said. “Because like I said, if she’s teaching him the way she knows, it could be completely different from the way I know. And me being part of the black community, I know different from how the white community sees it.”
Pabon said she also believes that her son is still too young for that sort of lesson.
“He’s 8 years old. What does he need to know about racism or white privilege?” Pabon asked.
Sadly, her son may need to know more than Pabon thinks. There are multiple studies showcasing how children of color, especially young black boys, are more likely to be punished, suspended, arrested in school—basically disciplined in general—than their peers.
Earlier last week, a government study was released noting that regardless of the racial makeup of the school, the type of punishment, the level of poverty in the school or grade level, black students are much more likely than their white counterparts to be punished in school.
Still, Pabon says that the pamphlet has had a negative effect on her son’s perception of himself, saying that he asked, “Mommy, are white people better than me?”
The mother said that white privilege was discussed in class. However, a school district spokeswoman has refuted that claim, saying that it is not part of the curriculum and that the pamphlet was organized by the school’s PTA.
The pamphlet was part of the “11-Step Guide to Understanding Race, Racism and White Privilege,” with parents meant to receive a new step every week. The program kicked off in February, which was Black History Month.
Several members of the school’s PTA insisted that the content of the pamphlet was meant for parents, not students, and that parents have the option to opt out of receiving messages, which Pabon has since done.