Southern Poverty Law Center: Teachers Are 'Weaponizing' Whiteness

Students at a Loudoun County, Va., elementary school / Getty Images
November 13, 2020

The Southern Poverty Law Center published an article documenting the ways in which white teachers "weaponize their whiteness" to harm black students.

The article, published by SPLC's "Teaching Tolerance" division, outlines how white people weaponize their "entitlement, anger, … need for retaliation, feigned fear and, finally, white fragility."

It suggests that teachers—particularly white, female teachers—can stop the weaponization of whiteness by relinquishing control of their classrooms when a student questions their authority. One teacher quoted in the piece says he has to "resist the urge to maintain power or control in [his] class, and especially to resist the anger that can bubble up in [him] when that control is called into question."

Other weaponizations of whiteness include crying in the classroom and disciplining students in a colorblind manner. The article claims that if a white, female educator cries around her students, she is using the tears to "gain sympathy or further assert [her] power."

"History has viewed white women as prized possessions to be protected, so their tears have represented danger, terror, and death for black people," the article reads. It goes on to say that disciplining students re-creates "the dynamics that were used as excuses for racial terror" under Jim Crow laws.

Teaching Tolerance offers educators a free curriculum derived from critical race theory, which asserts that America was founded on racism. In Virginia's richest school district, teachers are using that curriculum in kindergarten classrooms. SPLC says it supplies the materials to half a million educators nationwide, but the actual number is likely much higher, as schools can access the curriculum online.