By Corinne Murdock |
The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) hosted a race-based training discussing the evils of whiteness, and how only white-skinned people can be racist.
Racial Equity Partners conducted the training in April, led by Donald Whitehead, co-founder of the organization and also the director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, and Mayté Antelo-Ovando, a school psychologist. MAG has contracted with Racial Equity Partners since at least March 2020.
During the training, Whitehead claimed that “people of color” don’t have the capacity to be racist, only prejudiced, because they lack power.
“You can be as prejudiced as you want, but if you don’t have power, that does not become racism,” said Whitehead. “Power is what gives you the ability to become racist, and to participate in systemic racism or institutional racism. It’s the power that defines whether or not it’s racism.”
Antelo-Ovando added that the past wrongs committed by white people ensured that current generations of white people can’t be the victims of racism.
“The power that white groups of people have had historically, has created the laws, has created the rules, has created policies that have perpetuated inequities,” said Antelo-Ovando. “Therein, again, lies the difference between individual or group prejudice versus racism and the power that’s inherent in that versus prejudice.”
Whitehead and Antelo-Ovando further claimed that success arising from hard work was “gaslighting.”
“It is manipulating someone into an idea that is not factual,” said Whitehead. “We’re all a product of nature. We have no control over where we’re going.”
Whitehead cited a claim from “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates that the idea of race comes from racism. Whitehead then claimed that race was created as “an excuse” to colonize, pillage, and enslave, namely by Christians.
“There is no biological reason for us to be separated by race,” said Whitehead. “It was first used as an excuse for pillaging countries for those that considered themselves either Christian or religious in nature.”
Antelo-Ovando then discussed whiteness, which she introduced as part of her point that racism defines current society. Antelo-Ovando then defined “white supremacy” and “white privilege” as reigning factors of present society.
“We are living and breathing in a racist society,” said Antelo-Ovando.
As examples of white privilege, Antelo-Ovando said that white people aren’t followed while shopping, are taught that white people made civilization what it is, and don’t suffer any penalties for ignorance of language and customs of the majority population.
Whitehead insinuated that racial-based grievances were more pressing than other problems people experience.
“When we talk about whiteness [and privilege], we also want people to understand that we understand that everybody has had challenges and barriers in their life,” said Whitehead. “The difference here when we talk about privilege, whiteness, and racism, is that those barriers were not as a result of your skin color.”
In response to a remark from an unnamed illegal immigrant participating in the training, claiming that white privilege affects him, Whitehead also claimed that U.S. citizens are selectively outraged by illegal immigrants hailing from Latin American countries versus illegal immigrants hailing from European countries.
“That aspect of racism, we see it in the news every day,” said Whitehead. “There’s a difference between how you see migrants at the border from Mexico are treated versus the migrants that are coming from European countries.”
Antelo-Ovando then claimed the existence of “language privilege” — the ability to be fluent in English, or to look like someone for whom English is their first language.
Whitehead also claimed that white privilege can be given and taken away depending on their associations with marginalized groups, specifically family members.
The training stated that white people use “detours” to not admit they’re racist, such as claiming colorblindness, innocence by association with other minorities, that other races can be racist, and that meritocracy exists.
The pair claimed that opposition to Critical Race Theory (CRT) comes from a place of “white comfort,” and the belief that structural racism doesn’t exist. They characterized CRT as a necessary disruption to the current, racist society.
The training showed several clips: “Why Color Blindness Will NOT End Racism,” an episode from the Decoded series by MTV News; “A Conversation With White People on Race”by The New York Times; “Critical Race Theory: Experts Break Down What It Actually Means” by Washington Post.
The training also recommended participants read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad, and “How Good People Fight Bias: The Person You Mean to Be” by Dolly Chugh.
After our story on MAG’s racial equity training was published, MAG made the video of the traning private. AZ Free News was able to get a copy of that training and have provided it here.