American News Mar 23, 2021 12:41 AM EST

Middle school teacher segregates student discussions about Atlanta shooting

In a follow-up email the school district leadership defended this practice as not racist.

Middle school teacher segregates student discussions about Atlanta shooting
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Even though two white people also died in the Atlanta shooting, a Massachusetts school teacher wants to racially separate the student discussions on it. It’s another episode of the increasingly “woke” public education system. This time we go to Wellesley Public Schools in Massachusetts.

Three days ago TB Daily News reported on Michele Gabrielson, a Wellesley Middle School teacher who sent an email segregating grief counseling over the Atlanta shooting.

The first paragraph leaves it somewhat nebulous.

“Hi students. Today, our WPS Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host a Healing Space for Asian and Asian American students (grades 6-12), faculty/staff, and others in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community who wish to process recent events.”

However a follow-up spells out white people could not join the Zoom call.

(Bold emphasis added): “*Note: This is a safe space for our Asian/Asian-American and Students of Color, *not* for students who identify only as White. If you identify as White, and need help to process recent events, please know I’m here for you as well as your guidance counselors. If you need to know more about why this is not for White students, please ask me!

The article points out that Ms. Gabirelson has a website page specifically dedicated to teaching her students about identity politics and race. Among the subheaders you’ll find sections dedicated to: diversity and emojis, cultural appropriation, and even Marvel’s Black Panther movie.

Here’s a look at that.

Today TB Daily News gave an update. The school system rebranded their segregation as “Affinity Spaces”:

“Dear Members of the Wellesley Public Schools Community: As our district has continued to deepen its work around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), we have learned the importance of providing different types of spaces in which these challenging conversations can occur. Many of these opportunities are broad-based, occurring at faculty meetings, through community forums, and as part of whole-class conversations.

"At the same time, we have come to unequivocally affirm the importance of 'affinity spaces,' where members of historically-marginalized groups can come together in a spirit of mutual support and understanding of shared experiences. The district has benefited from the feedback provided through these conversations, which members of these groups might not otherwise feel comfortable sharing in broader dialogue sessions.”

Again, even though two white people died as well alongside six Asians in the Atlanta shooting: “This week, in which recent trends towards violence against Asian and Asian Americans has been highlighted, the district offered an affinity space for Asian and Asian American students in grades 6-12 and faculty, understanding that they might be acutely feeling the impact of the week’s events. The goal was to provide a safe space in which students and staff could reflect, share, and be supported as members of our school district.”

Finishing up the letter: “At the same time, we can also understand the discomfort that some members of our community have shared when learning of a practice that they perceive to be discriminatory in nature. It’s important to note that affinity spaces are not discriminatory.

"Hosting affinity spaces is part of a long-term, evidence-based district strategy that amplifies student and faculty voices on various issues, and enhances their sense of belonging. Our hope is that broader DE&I dialogue throughout the district will be strengthened by parallel conversations occurring within specific communities of interest. Spaces for both types of conversations are vital.”

Signed by: Dr. David Lussier (Superintendent of Schools), Dr. Charmie Curry (Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Mark Ito (Principal, Wellesley Middle Schools), and Dr. Jamie Chisum (Principal, Wellesley High School).

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