A public school district in Michigan is pushing the idea that calling America a melting pot or the land of opportunity is a "microaggression" while urging others to join Black Lives Matter protests and bail out "people arrested for protesting against injustice."
Farmington Public Schools, located near Detroit, launched a "21 Day Equity Challenge" last month to offer participants "the chance to deliberately focus on issues of equity on a daily basis" through a series of "learning and reflection activities." The activities will remain available to members of the Farmington/Farmington Hills community, including school staff and parents, through the end of the year.
The three-week program included a different theme for each day focusing on a specific aspect of social justice, such as "race and class privilege" and "gender and sexuality." The voluntary course also included lessons on various minority groups in America.
Day three, for example, detailed the differences between equity and equality, using the following quote to help explain: "Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits."
Day seven's session featured a video which told viewers, "Whiteness is the preferred norm in America," while showing a drawing of a smiling white woman holding a trophy atop a victory podium as two minorities look up at her angrily. The video also depicted those who oppose transgender people going into the opposite bathroom of their biological sex as what appears to be a blob of ghosts pointing threateningly at a child who's holding a football but thinking of being a ballerina.
Less than a week later, the Farmington program assigned a reading which said a person's gender "is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions: body, identity, and social gender."
Participants in the course were also given a sheet on recognizing microaggressions and the messages they send.
"Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership," the document stated.
"There is only one race, the human race" and "America is a melting pot" were among the microaggressions listed. Others fell under the category "Myth of Meritocracy," including statements such as "I believe the most qualified person should get the job," "Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough," and "America is the land of opportunity."
Taken together, the lessons seemed to present a vision of America as an oppressive country that discriminates against minorities based on race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The Farmington school district didn't include any alternative viewpoints in the course curriculum.
The final day's lesson, titled "Time for Some Action," included a "personal action plan" — a check list full of actions for participants to consider doing. The document encouraged the Farmington community to join a Black Lives Matter protest and "donate to bail efforts supporting people arrested for protesting against injustice."
The action plan also pushed participants to commit to posting at least one social media post a day about racial injustice and to support political candidates who advocate and fight for racial justice. The document specifically called on parents to teach their children "how to identify racist imagery or content when they see it" and for professionals to bring up conversations about race in the workplace.
Farmington Public Schools didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.
The district's equity challenge marks another example of K-12 schools promoting a social justice agenda that incorporates contentious political issues and portrays the U.S. as an oppressive country.
Last year in Seattle, for example, the public school district there said American schools are guilty of "spirit murder" against black children and told white teachers they must "bankrupt [their] privilege in acknowledgment of [their] thieved inheritance."
In Cupertino, Calif., an elementary school instructed third-graders to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities and rank themselves according to their "power and privilege."
And in Springfield, Mo., a middle school had teachers locate themselves on an "oppression matrix," based on the idea that straight, white, English-speaking, Christian males are members of the oppressor class and must atone for their privilege and "covert white supremacy."
Supporters of these initiatives argue they're necessary to expose systemic problems in America and promote a better society. Farmington Public Schools said it hoped to use the equity challenge "to deepen our understanding about the members of our community and to use this knowledge to confront bigotry, hatred, and discrimination against any individual or group."
Critics counter that the real purpose of such programs is to indoctrinate people with a left-wing ideology that teaches students to hate America.
Last week, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act, a legislative proposal that would give businesses, employees, children, and families tools to "fight back" against what his office described as "woke indoctrination."
After DeSantis unveiled the legislation, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Christopher Rufo explained that so-called "woke" ideas pose a unique challenge when introduced in K-12 schools.
"It is one thing to have critical race theory in universities; you can ignore it," he said. "It is one thing to have critical race theory in the federal bureaucracy. But the fact is, in the last year they have accelerated critical race theory in K-12 public schools, and they have done something that no government should do: step between parent and child."
Critical race theory, which is at the center of the debate over teaching social justice and progressive ideology in the classroom, argues that racism is entrenched in all systems of American society and that all disparities between the races indicate racial discrimination.
Farmington Public Schools' equity challenge didn't appear to mention critical race theory specifically, although it incorporated many similar ideas.