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Civil rights complaint filed against NYU for whites-only anti-racism workshops

A civil rights complaint has been filed by the Equal Protection Project against New York University for recently hosting a series of workshops only for white parents to teach them how to be anti-racist.

“We promised that if we ever found a program that openly discriminated against blacks, we would bring a complaint in a heartbeat. Now we have,” Legal Insurrection Foundation President William Jacobson wrote in a post detailing the complaint.

The foundation’s Equal Protection Project filed the complaint July 14 with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. It alleges “NYU’s creation and active promotion of a program that explicitly limited attendance based on race and skin color violates federal and state civil rights laws.”

At issue is NYU’s “From Integration to Anti-Racist Workshop Series,” first reported by the Washington Free Beacon:

The all-white seminar, “From Integration to Anti-Racism,” cost $360 to attend and met six times between February and June, according to a description of the program that has since been scrubbed from the university’s website without explanation. Organized by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education, the workshop was “designed specifically for white public school parents” committed to “becoming anti-racist” and building “multiracial parent communities.”

But to promote solidarity with all races, participants were told, it was necessary that the seminar include only one.

A few days before the first session, facilitators circulated a short handout, “Why a White Space,” to explain “why we are meeting as white folks for these six months.” The handout, produced by the nonprofit Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere, argued that white people need spaces where they can “unlearn racism” without subjecting minorities to “undue trauma or pain.”

The program ran monthly from February to June, according to an archived image of the program’s website.

It stated that workshop topics included: “How internalized white superiority shows up in our actions, relationships, and institutions”; “Being allies/accomplices to parents of color in our schools & a historical look at white anti-racist allies”; “Building authentic relationships with other parents across race & class”; and “Building an anti-racist practice & interrupting racism when confronted with it.”

The Beacon published video of a portion of one of the workshops as well.

NYU denied the program was whites-only in a statement to Fox News: “While this particular curriculum was principally intended for white parents of public school children who had a particular interest in this kind of anti-bias training, the program’s materials and content were not clear enough about it being open to all. NYU is working with program leadership to ensure that the program conforms with University’s standards and applicable law.”

The complaint alleged that the Office for Civil Rights “should investigate this blatantly discriminatory program and the circumstances under which the creation and promotion of it was approved, take all appropriate action to end such discriminatory practices and impose remedial relief. This includes, if necessary, imposing fines, initiating administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue federal financial assistance, and referring the case to the Department of Justice for judicial proceedings to enforce the rights of the United States.”

MORE: U. Minnesota scrubs info on racially segregated event after federal complaint

IMAGE: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.