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The Voice of the Black Community

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Toolkit teaches schools how to combat hate
 
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019
by Maria Magher, Correspondent

Symbols of white nationalism have appeared in many places around Durham in recent years.

Duke University had white nationalist groups distribute flyers on campus and racist graffiti appeared on walls and other locations. Orange County Schools approved a ban of the confederate flag and other symbols of hate across the district after a group of parents battled the district for nearly a year.

There are many, many more in the state, as well as in the country. It is for this reason that educators at Western States Center created the “Confronting White Nationalism in Schools” toolkit, which is being made available for free to educators, community leaders, parents and anyone else interested.

“A big part of Western State Center’s work is countering white nationalism across the country,” said Lindsay Schubiner, one of the authors of the toolkit. “Not only are the schools in this country not an exception to that, but we also know that many white nationalist groups specifically target young people for recruitment. That’s a real danger to everyone who’s part of a school community.”

Schubiner and co-authors Nora Flanagan and Jessica Acee have been friends and colleagues for many years. They combined their decades’ worth of educational experience to come up with examples they have encountered of white nationalism in schools, as well as recommended solutions.

The toolkit is organized by categories such as “white nationalist iconography and group identifiers” and “organizing in support of white nationalism at school.” Each category includes examples – wearing white nationalist iconography like the confederate flag on clothes or proposing the creation of a “European history month” – and provides suggested responses for different members of the community, as well as a success story from a real case.

Each category also includes examples of what not to do. A list of resources is included at the end of the toolkit.

“These instances certainly can be tied to an uptick to hate crimes in the country,” Acee said. “But it’s been around a long time and educators haven’t the tools to deal with it.”

Schubiner said the three women started working on the toolkit in August after having discussions about the need for it last spring. The toolkit was then reviewed extensively by peers before it was released last week.

“It’s very in tune with the kind of policies and tools that are already in place in schools,” Schubiner said. “I also love that it has suggested approaches for a variety of people who would be in a school community.”

The authors plan to offer community workshops to discuss these issues and potential solutions more thoroughly, and those interested can contact Western States Center directly to schedule one. Workshops will also be advertised locally when they are scheduled. The authors will be looking at expanding or supplementing the toolkit as needed, such as adding more information by age group.

“We don’t want this toolkit to just sit on the shelf,” Schubiner said, adding the authors want stakeholders to engage with it regularly and to expand it through community work.

Acee said white nationalist groups are not just trying to spread hate, but to consolidate power, and targeting young people is one way to do it. Schools are centers of the community, and students are still growing and trying to make sense of their identity. Convincing them to buy into the ideology can help these groups gain long-term followers and power.

“This is the kind of thing that’s best addressed early, so we would certainly want to encourage schools to do that and to do so in a way that centers the safety of the entire school community, and doesn’t overrespond or underrespond to what’s happening,” Schubiner said.

The toolkit is available online at www.westernstagecenter.org/schools. Those interested can also email the center to get a pdf copy sent to them directly or have it sent in the mail.

 

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