According to the outlet, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has scheduled the online seminar, titled "Holding the Weight on Whiteness," for Monday, March 27, for 4-6 pm. The event's landing page says the course "is about cultural humility and inclusion," and "will allow us to discuss how whiteness relates to privilege and identity, and how both become normalized and invisible."
The page listed out "key cultural themes" the workshop for teachers will focus on, including "internalized racism, privilege, microaggressions," and "white identity related to Latinx/e communities."
The host of the online event, Astoria-based psychotherapy consultant Erica Sandoval, advertises her expertise in "culturally sensitive" and "ketamine-assisted" therapy on her Psychology Today profile.
As UFT announced, Sandoval "will share personal stories and experiences that relate to her identities and how these experiences have been shaped by racism."
"Participants will leave the workshop with a better understanding of how to center ourselves as a form of resistance against the harmful effects of whiteness in our lives, the organizations we work for or direct and the communities in which we serve," the union added, before advertising that "UFT members who are licensed mental health professionals" may earn two credentialed hours for completing it the seminar, which could lead to higher-paying positions.
According to a now-deleted Instagram post from UFT, "whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups are compared."
"Whiteness is also at the core of understanding race in America. Whiteness and the normalization of whote racial identity throughout America's history have created a culture in which nonwhite persons are seen as inferior or abnormal," the union claimed.
As the post reported, City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli said he was alerted to the event by many concerned teachers and parents alike who were questioning why fighting "toxic whiteness" is a focus of the event.
"Why is it important for employees of the New York City Department of Education to serve as a form of resistance against the effects of whiteness in their lives, the Department of Education, and the diverse communities in which they serve, which may consist of white students and families?" wrote Borelli, a Staten Island Republican, in a letter to Tina Puccio, director of the UFT's Member Assistance Program on Friday.
"To be clear, I don't actually care what your speakers tell your members in an optional and private seminar," he added. "I care how members will implement the 'resistance' against these 'harmful effects of whiteness' when dealing with students and parents as part of their employment with the department."
Out of all New York City public schools, just 14.7 percent are white, the Department of Education reports.
Parent activist Maud Maron told the publication that the seminar isn't just "unnecessary," but also "racist," and bad for "students whose education and well-being should be top of mind for everyone, including the teachers' union."
"There is nothing wrong with being white, and the sleight of hand of talking about whiteness is not even a fig's leaf worth of cover," the mom added. "My kids have a white mom and Latino dad. This training says there is something wrong with mom and absurdly calls dad 'Latinx' — a word he would never use."
UFT representative Alison Gendar told the Post that the federation "offers professional development on a range of issues" in response to the backlash, but did not further expand.
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