President Joe Biden’s Department of Education reversed course on a decision that found racially segregated “affinity groups” to be a form of segregation.
In the final days of the Trump administration, the Department of Education determined that racial “affinity groups” were discriminatory because they treated students and staff differently based on their race. The New York Post discovered that the Biden Education Department suspended this decision.
Racial “affinity groups” are used in both K-12 and higher education institutions across the nation. They separate students and staff by race in hopes of giving black people a “safe space” to discuss their experiences with racism while providing a separate space for white people to learn about their “white privilege.”
The investigation into race-based groups was prompted by a complaint from a whistleblower teacher in a Chicago-area school district. The Evanston-Skokie School District was pushing “racial equity” training programs and lesson plans on students and staff.
According to documents obtained by the New York Post, school administrators at Evanston-Skokie School District were separated into two groups based on race for equity training programs — one for white administrators and one for administrators of color. The district also amended its policies to include “explicit direction” to staff to consider a student’s race during any disciplinary action.
The school district also held a “Colorism Privilege Walk” that separated seventh- and eighth-grade students by race. The exercise directed students to stand in a line and step forward if they were white and backward if they were black. It was designed to show students how “white privilege,” “internalized dominance,” and “microaggressions” help white students get ahead.
In an 18-page “letter of finding” obtained by the New York Post, Department of Education Office of Civil Rights enforcement officer Carol Ashley called the school district’s exercises discriminatory.
“These materials would have led students to be treated differently based on their race, depriving them of a class free from racial recrimination and hostility,” Ashley wrote. “Such treatment has no place in federally-funded programs or activities, nor is it protected by the First Amendment.”
The whistleblower teacher from the Chicago-area was initially notified by Ashely that the school district was engaging in discriminatory behavior. On Jan. 22, the teacher received a second call from Ashley saying that her case was being suspended by the Biden administrations’ new executive order on equity and gender rights.
The executive order has similarly backtracked a Department of Justice lawsuit brought forward by three high school female athletes hoping to block biological males from competing in girls’ sports in Connecticut. The withdrawal drew criticism from Republicans and some feminists who fear that women’s sports will be derailed by allowing biological males to compete against biological females.
While the Biden administration backtracks, racial segregation remains an issue for students, particularly on college campuses. Elon University in North Carolina hosts a weekly “white caucus” meeting for white students to “unpack race and systemic oppression.” The University of Kentucky separates its Resident Assistants into training groups based on race. “One for RAs who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color, and one for RAs who identify as white.”