Glenn Singleton’s Racism and the Arlington Public Schools

by Hans Bader on December 12, 2007 · 12 comments

Earlier, I wrote about the racist “diversity” consultant Glenn Singleton, who is hired by school officials, like the Arlington, Virginia schools, despite his long record of promoting offensive racial stereotypes, such as claiming that minority students are “emotional” and not “intellectual” or “task-oriented.”

What is commonly overlooked about Glenn Singleton’s racist approach is who his real victims are: America’s minority children. The Maoist indoctrination by Singleton that civil-rights historian and professor David Beito recounts here and here is no doubt humiliating and uncomfortable for the white teachers and professors forced to undergo it, especially given Singleton’s claim that racism is “ubiquitous” among whites, and his assertion that white teachers are to blame for minority students’ bad grades.

But the biggest losers in the long run from Singleton’s approach will be minority students, not the white teachers that Singleton scapegoats for poor performance by minority students. Being subjected to Singleton’s “diversity” training won’t cost white teachers their jobs, and if such “diversity” training gets too abusive, they may even be able to sue Glenn Singleton or their school system for it, since a federal court ruled in Hartman v. Pena (1995) that a man could sue for discriminatory harassment after being subjected to a humiliating 3-day diversity training seminar. But Singleton doesn’t just humiliate white teachers. He also promotes stereotypes about minority children that could aggravate the minority achievement gap.

Singleton claims that “white talk” is “verbal,” “intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while “color commentary” is “emotional” and “personal.” See, e.g., Vincent Carroll, “On Point: The Whiteness Trap,” Rocky Mountain News, May 10, 2006, at page 34A. That’s exactly the sort of racist stereotype that contributes to the poor performance of some minority students, who believe that studying is “acting white.”

The fact that Singleton puts a superficially positive spin on this negative stereotype (by claiming that whites’ fous on achievement is coldly “impersonal” and “task-oriented”) makes it all the more seductive to those minority students who already perceive studying as “acting white” and being a “grind” (and who taunt studious classmates of their own race by referring to them as “schoolboy,” “schoolgirl” and “little miss perfect”).

Singleton is hired for big bucks — a “six-figure fee” — to conduct diversity training seminars in order to supposedly remedy the minority achievement gap. But the truth is that his own teachings aggravate and reinforce the minority achievement gap. And America’s minority students will be the losers.

For that reason, I was especially saddened to learn in a November 28 letter from Arlington Schools Superintendent Robert G. Smith that Singleton was supposedly hired to remedy “the disparity in achievement between white students and students of color.” Hiring Singleton to reduce the minority achievement gap is like hiring a flat-earther to teach astronomy and biology.

In his letter, Dr. Robert Smith admitted that Singleton’s bizarre racial theories are “provocative.” Provocative, indeed. Singleton’s racial theories resemble those of the infamous racist Leonard Jeffries, who was belatedly removed from his position as head of the black studies department at the City University of New York, after he decided to go beyond promoting racism to preaching antisemitism. His racial claims, too, were described as “provocative.” But in Jeffries v. Harleston (1995), the federal appeals court upheld his removal from his administrative position because of his bigotry.

Glenn Singleton’s racial theories closely parallel those of Leonard Jeffries. Jeffries taught that whites were cold, individualistic, competitive “ice people,” while minorities are warm, “communal” “sun people.” Similarly, Singleton claims that “white and Asian students are more competitive and individualistic,” while minorities have a “collective,” communal orientation (see Vincent Carroll, “On Point: ‘Culture of Whiteness,’” Rocky Mountain News, October 19, 2005, at page 37A). And he claims that whites are “impersonal,” “verbal,” “intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while minorities are “non-verbal, personal” and “emotional.” (See Vincent Carroll, “On Point: The Whiteness Trap,” Rocky Mountain News, May 10, 2006, at page 34A). Ironically, Asian students end up being classified as as “majority students” in school systems advised by Singleton, because they have the temerity to succeed academically in a predominantly-white society.

Why Singleton continues to be hired by school systems (like the Arlington County schools) is a mystery, given how much public embarrassment he has caused some of them. Perhaps white school officials harbor so much politically-correct racial guilt that they fixate on his anti-white rhetoric and thus lose sight of how damaging his racial stereotypes are to minority children. Anti-white rhetoric is sometimes rewarded, as Leonard Jeffries showed by obtaining tenure and administrative authority at CUNY as a result of his flagrantly racist “scholarship” and writings.

Singleton recently embarrassed California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. This year, he was hired by the gullible O’Connell to give diversity training. O’Connell then was publicly ridiculed after he repeated an offensive stereotype voiced by Glenn Singleton: that blacks, as a people, are loud, and need to have their loudness accommodated in the schools. (In fact, many minority students express dismay about how loud and disorderly their classes are, finding that to be a major impediment to learning. They want “simple, elusive quiet” so they can study. My Asian, Hispanic, and black relatives are not loud and noisy). The head of San Francisco’s NAACP has demanded an apology from O’Connell for spreading this unfounded racial stereotype.  Singleton also embarrassed the Seattle Schools in a landmark Supreme Court case.

But Singleton himself continues to be hired, probably because of his anti-white rhetoric. A case in point is the enthusiastic reception that speakers from the anti-white Nation of Islam receive on campus. At both of my alma maters (Harvard Law School and the University of Virginia), a Nation of Islam speaker, Abdul Alim Muhammad, received an enthusiastic reception from predominantly-black audiences, even though he said things that were antisemitic, not just racist. He got away with his anti-semitism as a reward for his anti-white racism. Anti-white racism apparently excuses all sins.

No student newspaper would even criticize the bigoted Nation of Islam speech at U.Va. on November 15, 1990, which lasted for four hours, featured an enthusiastic audience of 600 students, and was filled with racial hatred and antisemitism. Nor would any individual journalist criticize it (except for me), until a Muslim minority student from Bangladesh (Arshad Rahman) publicly condemned the speech on November 28 as a “heretical expression of race hatred.” That broke the politically-correct taboo among journalists against criticizing anti-white racism, and suddenly, guilty whites began to gingerly criticize the speech, although they focused not on its racism but on its antisemitism and one arguably antigay remark made by the speaker.

Hans Bader December 12, 2007 at 11:08 am

As I noted in my December 3 post at this blog, Supreme Court justices have criticized the bizarre racial philosophy that Glenn Singleton promotes, in the landmark Supreme Court case of Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007):

"After Singleton was hired by the Seattle Schools in 2002, they adopted wacky definitions of racism consistent with his obsession with “white privilege” and promoting racial stereotyping. They defined “individualism” as a form of “cultural racism” (Singleton equates “individualism” with whiteness), claimed that planning ahead is a white characteristic that it is racist to expect minorities to exhibit, and claimed that only whites can be racist (consistent with Singleton’s concept of “white privilege”). These definitions later cause the Seattle Schools great embarrassment, when they were mocked by Supreme Court justices in a landmark civil-rights case."

Specifically, they were mocked in footnote 14 of Chief Justice Roberts' opinion announcing the court's judgment, and in footnote 30 of Justice Thomas's concurring opinion. The justices criticized the Seattle Schools' bizarre definitions of racism.

Chief Justice Roberts highlighted the Seattle Schools' attack on "individualism," which (as noted above) Singleton claims is a white characteristic.

Justice Thomas criticized not only the Seattle Schools' bizarre racism definitions, but also their obsession with "white privilege," a concept relentlessly promoted by Glenn Singleton.

My December 3 post can be found at:

http://www.openmarket.org/2007/
12/03/exporting-racism-to-canada/

Hans Bader December 12, 2007 at 11:20 am

The disturbing and false idea that studying is "acting white" — which Glenn Singleton reinforces — is described in a sad column by the liberal African-American New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who notes that it has become commonplace.

Herbert writes,

"Somehow over the past two or three decades a lot of black kids absorbed the message that academic achievement was something to be shunned. Excellence in sports or the various entertainment fields was one thing, a good thing, but high marks and academic honors were something else. Academic achievement, according to this mind-bogglingly destructive way of thinking, was a white thing, and thus in some sense contemptible. The tragic result has been that in many schools across the country black kids who apply themselves to their studies are often ridiculed and at times ostracized.

A black teacher in the Bronx told me in a despairing tone that she has male students who would rather be paraded in handcuffs before television cameras than be caught reading a book. I've had many students tell me in interviews that they are afraid to raise their hands in the classroom because they don't want to repeat the experience of being laughed at for giving the correct answer.

A black 17-year-old girl who worked part time at a mall in Marietta, Ga., was taunted recently by high school classmates who showed up at her job to express their resentment at the high marks she was getting."

The column is Bob Herbert's "In America; The Success Taboo," New York Times, Dec. 14, 1997.

Bob Herbert's story can be found at:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E

James December 13, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Hans,

I am beyond surprise. Living in the SF Bay Area has made me realize the level of hypocrisy and how far the left/democrats/progressives have sunk. If you don't agree you are bad and they will shout you down. It really is sick.

Candice January 11, 2008 at 5:24 am

Wow—I am floored at these comments. I am a white teacher, and I went to Glen's seminar, and it absolutely changed my life. If you don't see the "white priveledge" point of view, then you are not looking hard enough. He simply describes the differences between the ways people were raised. I'd expect an educated man to be able to tell the difference between that and encouraging racism. This whole article makes me sick. It's so counterproductive.

Bill Nonymous February 6, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Here's the big question:

Is there research that indicates that "courageous conversations" result in improved minority achievement?

Arturo April 6, 2008 at 7:45 am

RE: Candice on 1/11/2008- Absolutely amazing. Someone admits to being brainwashed. "You are not looking hard enough." No, we are looking hard enough to realize that Glen is simply a racist. Your claim that this article is counterproductive is your weak, cynical, childish, and pathetic attempt to marginalize valid points-of-view. The difference in ways people are raised does not account for any privilege. For example, take some stereo-typical white person raised in a dirt-poor trailer park in the deep south. How do they have "privilege" over a middle-class minority (or, let's be honest here, a black person) raised in an urban or suburban environment? Simply because of their skin color? B.S. They will have the same access to FREE public education that the minority person has and, in many cases, will not be driven to school in a Mercedes or BMW or Escalade. Privilege is accorded by society in general and unless you're Rip Van Winkle, you will have seen (had you been looking hard enough) that most public entities make an attempt to accomodate minorities rather than other "majorities" (in quotes because racists such as Glen include Asians in the majority simply because they have excelled and see the value in excelling). I could go on, but I fear that talking to you would be like talking to a wall – so what's the point.

Jim May 14, 2008 at 3:29 am

Glen Singleton is the racist-he is also a scam artist of the highest order-

How do you suppose he explains, categorizes or otherwise pigeon holes other "privileged" people of color?

For example, citizens with origins in India, Sri Lanka, Northern Africa, the Gulf and Middle East—or is that not enough "color"

Many people from these regions have come to the US with nothing but a rugged sense of individualism and determination for a better education, and a better life-Are they now racists? According to Glen's litmus test they surely must be…..

If individualism = racism then Glen Singleton = BAD NEWS

Nando May 20, 2008 at 8:19 am

Hans.

I don't know what you do, but it is clear that the issue of educational equity is either non-existent to you and that all should melt into the educational system.

Mr. singleton's ideas have a very simple premise: Dialogue. I've been to the seminars and did not find anything racist about them. If the man charges the "large fee" I could argue that most consultants do that anyway. Its a market issue. If you don't agree that the money spent was effective then you have two options: 1) create a campaign to get rid of the official that hired him 2)propose and execute an alternative program that Mr. Singleton is doing, keeping in mind the realities of what happens in inner city and multicultural diverse settings. Otherwise, I'm sorry to say, you are just whinning. Oh yeah…and about anything racist having been said by Singleton, well maybe. He is human after all and if Kramer, Mel Gibson and Strom Thurmond have made comments its not surprising that a person in modern day america would say something innapropriate at some time. It is not ok by any means, but after being on his trainings I never heard anything that denied or made the session uncomfortable. My colleagues shared the same sentiment. Lets not confuse discomfort and guilt with the issue of racism.

Personally I think that if you are not a teacher, you have no business criticizing what happens (the pedagogy) in a classroom (this goes to everyone) even if you are a parent. This, of course is ammended unless the teacher is mediocre or incompetent and that is another issue. The issue about achievement is one between the parent, child and teacher. Not my neighbor making coments and giving advice about how the school down the street can do better when he or she does not have a child in that school or classroom. I wouldn't criticize a doctor on how to do his job, I'm not qualified. Education, like any profession, is not any different. Every child, classroom, school and community is different. Hans in critiquing Singleton has failed to prescribed a solution. Bill Nonymous posted the big question: Is there research to back up Glen Singleton's effectiveness? I don't know. I know for certain that I've witnessed schools that after the training from Mr. Singleton the environment was better conducive to learning because the teachers and administrators better understood their populations and where also better able to adapt their methods of instruction to their students.

Singleton in making a generalizatiostating that minority students are "emotional", "not intellectual" and "task oriented" is more than likely referring to a reality of the low income inner city. And that is a generalization, however one of the central points in his trainings is the consideration of every child as an individual with a defined background and set of values that need to be respected. However, if the educator (teacher or administrator) is unable to identify his or her own prejudices (we all have them)then this educator cannot be effective because the issues of respect, competency, excellence and achievement are seen only through a standardized lense of evaluation. Hans and Singletons ideas of success, achievement, aculturation and education might be different from mine. Singletons argument is that one must be aware of his or her own ignorance, learn and adapt. Never forgetting the goal of success and achievement. On the other hand, I'm sure there are schools that didn't improve or change after Singletons training. why did that happen? I'm sure there are reasons, but unfortunately I haven't seen one and theorizing without data would be an empty exercise or in a simple word,

whinning.

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