A New York City Principal urged parents to be “white traitors” and actively work to “dismantle institutions” of racism across the country. Mark Federman, the principal of East Side Community High School, sent the “whiteness” pamphlet out to parents of students at the school, asking them to rate their “whiteness” on a scale from “white abolitionists” to “white supremacists.”
Before the principal sent the materials out to parents, staff were offered a look. When staff okayed the initiative, the principal sent the survey out to parents of students at the school located in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. The graphic in the handout includes “eight white identities” that range from “white supremacist” to “white abolitionists.”
The categories included in the handout seem to have been developed by Barnor Hesse, an Associate Professor of African American Studies, Political Science, and Sociology at Northwestern University, according to Daily Mail. The graphic in the handout seems to be the masterwork of the Slow Factory Foundation, which is a not-for-profit group that hopes to erode racial inequality in America.
“There is a regime of whiteness, and there are action-oriented white identities,” Hesse wrote above the eight-point list. “People who identify with whiteness are one of these. It’s about time we build an ethnography of whiteness since white people have been the ones writing about and governing others.”
The categories of whiteness include white supremacist, white voyeurism, white privilege, white benefit, white confessional, white critical, white traitor, and white abolitionist.
According to Hesse’s work, white supremacists follow “clearly marked white society that preserves, names, and values white superiority.”
The second category on the list, white voyeurism, “wouldn’t challenge a white supremacist; desires non-whiteness because it’s interesting, pleasurable; seeks to control the consumption and appropriation of non-whiteness; fascination with culture (ex: consuming Black culture without the burden of Blackness).”
On the other end of the spectrum is the “white abolitionist” who is “changing institutions, dismantling whiteness, and not allowing whiteness to reassert itself.”
The “white traitor” is someone who “actively refuses complicity; names what’s going on; the intention is to subvert white authority and tell the truth at whatever cost; need them to dismantle institutions.”
A representative of the Education Department defended Principal Federman and said that the whiteness pamphlets were sent to parents “as part of a series of materials meant for reflection” and as “food for thought.”
The official statement declared, “Anti-racism and the celebration of diversity are at the core of our work on behalf of the young people of New York City, and the East Side Community School’s students, parents, and staff partner together to advance equity in their community.
“The document in question was shared with the school by parents as a part of ongoing anti-racist work in the school community and is one of many resources the schools utilize.”
Principal Federman’s school has about 680 students in grades six through twelve. The student body is made up of about 55 percent Hispanic students, 18 percent white students, and 15 percent Black students.