In 2021, Plymouth Public Schools paid $7,000 to train students and staff in racial equity and white privilege at Plymouth South High School in 2021, according to a report from the news outlet 1620Today. Newton North High School Principal Henry Turner conducted the training sessions for the school district. He billed the school district twice for his consultation services. The school district paid him $6,000 for a “full day workshop” on October 5, 2021and then $1,000 for a “1 hour faculty meeting” that served as “an introduction to what it means to be an antiracist educator.” The invoice for the faculty meeting was dated August 2, 2021.
The training included a PowerPoint presentation titled “The Educator Who is Committed to Equity.” The presentation had four objectives:
- Walk away with a firmly calibrated understanding of the definitions of race, racism, privilege, intersectionality and others
- Describe whiteness and the role the culture plays to uphold systemic racism
- Participate in Racial Identity Development
- Develop an Action Plan
The presentation featured a chart with the term “Antiracist Educator” in the center with arrows pointing out to where being an “Antiracist Educator” would provide perceived benefits. The areas of focus included “interactions with students,” “classroom structures,” “policy,” “curriculum and instruction,” “professional interactions,” “family and community engagement,” and “personal.”
The presentation then featured definitions of terms such as “white privilege” and “implicit bias.” The definition of “white privilege” was “having greater access to power and resources than people of color [in the same situation] do.” The definition of “implicit bias” was “the beliefs and the feelings we have about social groups that can influence our decision making and our actions, even when we’re not aware of it.” The next slide stated that “we have to talk about race in order to move past race.” Other topics in the presentation included “Recognizing White Culture” and “Whiteness – What is typically called ‘normal.'”
The presentation also featured a quote that stated every aspect of a person’s life involves race:
Until you can recognize that you are living a racialized life and you’re having racialized experiences every moment of every day, you can’t actually engage people of other races around the idea of justice.
The presentation then moved to the topic of “Racial Identity Development” and asked participants to “study the stages of your own racial identity” and “identify the stage where you think you are in your racial identity.” After asking participants several questions, the PowerPoint presentation asked participants to “study the stages of the other racial identity.” Participants were then asked to discuss the topic in small groups. Questions to ask in groups included:
- What did you notice about your racial identity?
- What are you struggling with?
- Generally speaking what stage would you place most of your students of color?
- Generally speaking what stage would you place most of your white students?
The presentation then asked participants to discuss the topic in a large group discussion with the following questions:
- What are you noticing?
- What would it take to help our students grow in their racial identity development in your school?
The topic of “Racial Identity Development” included another document that participants used to determine their current stage of racial identity. The document featured three models of racial identity development that included “People of Color,” “Biracial People,” and “White People.” The “People of Color” model featured three categories of “Black American Racial Identity,” “Filipino American,” and “Ethnic Minority.”
The “Black American Racial Identity” model had five stages: “Pre-Encounter,” “Encounter,” “Immersion/Emersion,” “Internalization,” and “Internalization-Commitment.” The model claimed that black Americans “absorbed many beliefs and values of the dominant white culture” but will eventually wake up to the “impact of racism” in their lives and to “the reality that one cannot truly be white.” The document explained the five stages in detail:
- Pre-Encounter: absorbed many beliefs and values of the dominant white culture, including the notion that “white is right” and “black is wrong”; de-emphasis on one’s racial group membership; largely unaware of race or racial implications
- Encounter: forced by event or series of events to acknowledge the impact of racism in one’s life and the reality that one cannot truly be white; forced to focus on identity as a member of a group targeted by racism
- Immersion/Emersion: simultaneous desire to surround oneself with visible symbols of one’s racial identity and an active avoidance of symbols of whiteness; actively seek out opportunities to explore aspects of one’s own history and culture with support of peers from one’s own racial background
- Internalization: secure in one’s own sense of racial identity; pro-black attitudes become more expansive, open, and less defensive; willing to establish meaningful relationships with whites who acknowledge and are respective of one’s self-definition
- Internalization-Commitment: found ways to translate one’s personal sense of blackness into a plan of action or a general sense of commitment to concerns of blacks as a group, which is sustained over time; comfort with one’s own race and those around them
The “White Racial Identity” model had six stages: “Contact,” “Disintegration,” “Reintegration,” “Pseudo-Independence,” “Immersion/Emersion,” and “Autonomy.” The “White Racial Identity” model stated that white Americans start with the idea of being “colorblind” that “can cover unconscious racist beliefs.” The document explained that “the last stage is reached when an individual has a clear understanding of and positive connection to their White racial identity while also actively pursuing social justice.” The document explains the six stages in detail:
- Contact: In the first stage of contact, the individual adheres to the “colorblind” motto. They see racial difference but do not find it salient and in fact may feel that racism is in fact propagated by the discussion and acknowledgement of race as an issue. In this stage, there is no conscious demonstration of racism here. This seemingly non-racist position can cover unconscious racist beliefs. If the individual is confronted with real-world experiences or knowledge that uncovers the privileges of White skin, they may move into the disintegration stage.
- Disintegration: In this stage, because the person has new experiences which confront his prior conception of the world and because this conception is now challenged by this new information or experience, the person is often plagued by feelings of guilt and shame. These emotions of guilt and shame can be modified when the person decides to channel these emotions in a positive way but when those emotions continue to dominate, the person may move into the reintegration stage.
- Reintegration: This stage is marked by a “blame-the-victim” attitude that’s more intense than anything experienced in the contact stage. They may feel that although Whites do have privileges, it is probably because they deserve them and are in some way superior to minority groups. If the person is able to combat these feelings, they may be able to move on to the pseudo-independence stage.
- Pseudo-Independence: This is the first stage of positive racial identification. Although an individual in this stage does not feel that Whites deserve privilege, they look to people of color, not themselves, to confront and uncover racism. They approve of these efforts and comfort the person as these efforts validate this person’s desire to be non-racist. Although this is positive White racial identity, the person does not have a sense of how they can be both White and non-racist together.
- Immersion/Emersion: In this stage, the person makes a genuine attempt to connect to his/her own White identity and to be anti-racist. This stage is usually accompanied by deep concern with understanding and connecting to other Whites who are or have been dealing with issues of racism.
- Autonomy: The last stage is reached when an individual has a clear understanding of and positive connection to their White racial identity while also actively pursuing social justice. Helms’ stages are as much about finding a positive racial identification with being White and becoming an active anti-racist.
The document then featured an “Integrated Model” that showed “whites” and “people of color” starting together but splitting off into different paths before coming back together at the end. The path for “White People” started with “Conformity” and then moved to “Acceptance,” “Resistance,” “Retreat,” “Emergence,” and finally “Integrative Awareness.” The path for “People of Color” also started with “Conformity” before moving to “Dissonance,” “Immersion,” “Emersion,” “Internalization,” and finally “Integrative Awareness.”
The stage of “Conformity” that included “whites” and “people of color” stated that both start with the feeling that they are “regular Americans” and “strive to emulate Whiteness in actions, speech, dress, beliefs, and attitudes because Whiteness is perceived as positive.” “White People” then split into “Acceptance” that the document explained as “White People” believing everyone has troubles and people of color should “go forward as Americans which really means be more like White people.” The document then explained that the next step for white people is “Resistance” where they believe that there is a “new racism” specifically against “whites,” which is referred to as “reverse racism.”
A later stage for “White People” is called “Emergence” where they accept that they have “privilege.” In this stage, they “begin to take control over the type of White person they want to be like.” In the final stage of “Integrative Awareness” with people of color, white people “are able to positively identify with their own racial group while also acknowledging that other aspects of their identity (their gender, their talents and abilities, their unique experiences) contribute to their personhood.”
In the model, “People of Color” also have their own split after the “Conformity” stage. In their next stage labeled as “Dissonance,” people of color “start to feel confused about the beliefs they held about America and themselves as they begin to see that racism and sexism may be impacting them.” The next stage “Immersion” explains that people of color start to “feel angry about racism and sexism” and “feel that most White people and males are racists and sexists and thus part of the problem.” However, they eventually lead down a similar path as “White People” and end in the “Integrative Awareness” stage.
The consultant Henry Turner is known for making his controversial opinions public, despite also being the principal of Newton North High School. Parents Defending Education previously found that he sent emails to his school’s staff stating that the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse was “racism.” He appears to have taken the role of a political activist and paid consultant while also running Newton North High School.