Pizza Hut Partners With Nonprofit To Develop ‘Anti-Racist Pedagogy’ To ‘Empower Educators’
GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - 2019/10/03: American restaurant chain and international franchise Pizza Hut logo seen in Gothenburg.
Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pizza Hut has teamed up with a nonprofit social enterprise, developing guidelines “to correct implied and overt forms of bias and privilege” in teaching methods and classroom materials. The 46-page training manual is advertised as “an introduction to anti-racist pedagogy,” guiding teachers who seek to “increase their personal awareness” on the subject.

Leading experts in the “Anti-Bias/Antiracist” field are said to have “informed” the content, which encourages educators to incorporate those visions into lesson plans. The international restaurant chain presents this new resource in collaboration with First Book — an organization that includes a “member network” of more than 475,000 registered teachers, librarians, and after-school program coordinators serving children from low-income families.

First Book’s website says it “aims to remove barriers to quality education,” providing books, winter clothing, and other scholastic-related supplies that benefit disadvantaged kids. The guidebook indicates it was developed after the nonprofit’s members expressed a need to better understand how inequities impact the youth that they teach.

Pizza Hut CEO Artie Starrs and First Book CEO Kyle Zimmer co-signed a letter “in solidarity,” explaining: “Our goal is to empower educators so they can help their students engage in effective, courageous conversation about race and social justice.” The partnership strives to ensure adolescents understand systemic racism and the need to eradicate such structures.

The guide is based on the premise that race and racism have been part of America’s collective history “since the first English colonists arrived in 1607.” It emphasizes, “race is not biological,” describing it as “one of many social constructs — ideas that have been created and accepted by society.” Citing data from the US Census Bureau, the manual projects people of color will become the majority of America’s population by 2043.

“This forthcoming shift means that today’s youngest students will graduate into and lead a nation that is more diverse than ever before,” it says.

One section highlights a quote from an activist that reads, “We need to reckon with our history of racial injustice.” A chronological timeline shows significant moments in America’s evolution, starting in the 1400s and ending on May 25, 2020, with the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of law enforcement. The anti-racism instructional says, “Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a White police officer, Derek Chauvin,” even though he has not yet stood trial.

The extensive recap provides an alternative presentation of many aspects of American history than conventional public school teachings. Writers attributed Christopher Columbus’ expeditions to the beginning of the international slave trade, referred to colonization and Westward expansion as “the European invasion,” and called Bacon’s Rebellion “the origin of White privilege.”

After discussing progress made during the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War, it addresses the nation’s history of policing.

“Many former Confederate soldiers, Ku Klux Klan members, and other extremists joined local police forces,” it says. “Acting under their new policing powers, Southern police were allowed to legally discriminate against and harm formerly enslaved and freed Black citizens. As a result of these historical events, the Black community’s mistrust of police quickly became deeply rooted in American society.”

The authors ask educators to self-reflect throughout, asking questions like:

“How does this historical timeline compare to history lessons you received as part of your formal education?

How does it compare to the history lessons you teach?

After reviewing a brief history of race, racism and systemic violence against Black and Indigenous people, can you identify areas where you can incorporate some of these historical moments into your curriculum and instruction?”

A “Frequently Asked Questions From Educators” section advises on several potentially uncomfortable situations, such as:

“How do I talk about race when I’m a White person teaching mostly BIPOC students?”

“There is resistance from school/district leadership regarding having conversations about race in my class or program. What can I do?”

“What should I do when my White students have guilt about the history of the United States?”

Another part warns of the psychological effects of micro-aggressions, which one ABAR authority defined as “an indirect, subtle or unintentional act of discrimination against members of a marginalized group.” The concept was subcategorized into three types: micro-assaults, micro-insults, and micro-invalidations.

“If someone uses a microaggression when interacting with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), it is best to apologize, reflect on the underlying message of their words or actions, and take steps to remove that language or behavior from their future interactions,” the guidebook advises.

It goes on to urge educators to create a classroom culture that makes all students feel welcome, recommending wall art that shows children of various racial, gender, and religious identities that is not “White-centric.”

“If you are a White educator, it is critically important that you take time to understand your Whiteness and the impact your identity has on the students and families you serve,” the guide explains.

Educators should use an “ABAR lens” when selecting reading materials and picture books for libraries and classrooms, the recommendations add. Stories should feature different geographical settings while celebrating diverse religions and nonreligious traditions. Collections should include books whose main characters come from other countries, incorporating all family structures, even those without children.

“A reading diet of books with mainly White characters teaches children that Whiteness is the default,” it says.

The Empowering Educators program also includes a two-part digital series on race and racism, along with a special edition of paperbacks to build “a more inclusive classroom.”

Pizza Hut sent an email last month asking customers to “help us reimagine the classroom bookshelf,” promoting its alliance with First Book. It indicated the mutual effort would print and distribute 75,000 first-edition books to “amplify diverse voices and cultures.”

First Book’s website says the authors come from “a diverse range of cultures,” and:

These five warm, affirming stories invite children to think more deeply about names, food, language, clothing, traditions, families, and communities, strengthening their abilities to make meaningful connections between their own experiences and those of others, and increasing the range of empathy and understanding. 

Read the partnership’s “Empowering Educators: A Guidebook on Race & Racism” here.

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