Tufts University advocated that white, Christian students attend an online retreat on “rooting out racism.”
The Tufts University webpage links out to an event entitled, “Rooting Out Racism: An Online Retreat for White Christian Folks.” The retreat is hosted by an organization called “Spiritual Grounding,” which is a “spirituality” group that provides “challenging spiritual resources” to Christians.
The retreat advertises itself as a “free online retreat for white folks.” The event uses a 10-day “pray-at-your-own pace” model with audio reflections and prayer prompts that “invite white people to search their souls.”
“The work of dismantling racism is first and foremost a spiritual task,” the retreat description reads. “This task falls primarily on white folks, for America’s unjust systems of oppression were largely created by white people, and these systems are largely sustained — often unconsciously — by white people.”
Tufts University did not respond to requests for comment.
Campus Reform reached out to Spiritual Grounding; shortly after the description of the retreat was changed.
“We did not imagine launching Spiritual Grounding with a retreat about white supremacy,” the original description reads. “But the groundswell of activism and attention on racism in the weeks since George Floyd’s murder has highlighted once again the need for white folks to do their work.”
The organization was founded by university administrators. Co-founder Lauren Schwer is the associate director of campus ministry at Loyola University in Chicago. Co-founder Oliver Goodrich is Cornell University’s associate dean of students for spirituality and meaning-making.
The retreat was run by secondary school teachers and college administrators as well. Event directors teach or work at Brooklyn Jesuit Prep, DePaul University, Cornell University, Gonzaga, Arrupe College, and Loyola Academy.
In light of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police, secondary schools and universities alike began providing racially-segregated trainings. According to Young America’s Foundation, the University of Kentucky separated its Resident Assistants into separate training groups, “one for RAs who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color and one for RAs who identify as White.”
These trainings have also been popularized in primary and secondary schools. According to City Journal, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) hosted a training session for teachers in which white teachers were told they “spirit murder” black students.
The central message of the programming in SPS is that white teachers must recognize they “are assigned considerable power and privilege in our society” because of their white skin. The training calls on white teachers to reject their so-called “whiteness” and become dedicated to being an “anti-racist educator.”
Much of this programming is based on the ideology of “critical race theory,” which teaches students that America is irredeemably rooted in racism. As critical race theory curriculum grows, watchdog organizations have popped up to oversee its prominence on campuses across the country.