Education blogger and GCS board of education candidate E.C. Huey recently examined the role of the Diversity Officer for the 71,000+ student school district. He found that Walker, a relatively new hire compensated at ~$80,000/year, is sending curious messages about race, ethnicity and diversity to the Guilford County community.
â€œCreating a World Without Racism: What It Would Mean for Peace, Justice and our Planet,â€ was the topic of the guest speaker, Monica Walker, at the ninth annual Peace and Justice Network Potluck, Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Central Library in Greensboro.
Walker, originally from Alabama and recently moving to Greensboro from New York, is an anti-racism trainer and the Guilford County Schoolsâ€™ diversity officer. Before taking her current position with the Guilford County Schools, she taught in the justice and policy studies program at Guilford College. Walker has also worked as a trainer with Guilford County-based Partnership Project, which conducts anti-racism workshops.
Using her training skills Walker asked the audience to write down five words: remember, reconcile, reconnect, rebuild and redefine. She then connected each word to her main theme. Walker said, â€œYour ethnicity connects you to your community. It is so important to connect with our ethnicity.”
So far, Walker sounds like the garden variety, milquetoast diversity-monger that is increasingly common in public education. It could be worse, though such actors can certainly be employed for less than $80k. The article continues:
“She moved about the room and asked people, â€œWhat is your ethnicity.â€ The answers, of course, varied. She explained to those who said, American, that the country of oneâ€™s birth is their nationality, not ethnicity. She noted that race is a political description. She said that ethnicity is the traditions that have been passed on to one from their ancestors. She said to remember these traditions is important.”
And so it begins. I commented on E.C.’s post and will reproduce portions of that comment here:
What Walker is peddling here is an absolute load of tripe.
That Walker doesnâ€™t seem to think that there are uniquely-American traditions is not only troubling, but shows a serious misunderstanding of the populations sheâ€™s supposedly trying to bring together. Iâ€™d be happy to spend 5 minutes with Walker in front of the magazine rack at any bookstore and bring her up to speed on American culture, which parts were unique and why.
Then Iâ€™d explain to her how her positions as an anti-racism and public school district diversity officer are uniquely American.
Reporter: What are you?
Connerly: I am an American.
Reporter: No, no, no! What are you?
Connerly: Yes, yes, yes! I am an American.
Reporter: That is not what I mean. I was told that you are African American. Are you ashamed to be African American?
Connerly: No, I am just proud to be an American.
Connerly went on to explain that his ancestry included Africans, French, Irish, and American Indians. It was too much for the poor reporter from our Paper of Record: â€œWhat does that make you?â€ he asked in uncomprehending exasperation. I suspect he was not edified by Connerlyâ€™s cheerful response: â€œThat makes me all-American.â€
As a descendant of Francis Cooke, my answer would’ve been similar. Nearly 400 years in the same spot is usually enough to forge the basic traditions and values that make up one’s identity.
But Walker wouldn’t have accepted that.
She also reminded us that:
â€œ…race is a political description.”
It would come as a surprise to those descendants of peoples from Asia through Africa who carry sickle-cell alleles – or the Ashkenazi who carry Tay-Sachs – that their afflictions are simply a result of synthetic political constructs.
â€œAlways directing her talk toward racism [emphasis mine], Walker said that oneâ€™s external constructions are what someone else had created. â€œSome of us need to redefine ourselves.â€â€
To which I responded with:
Hopefully – though it is unlikely – Ms. Walker will realize that not everything in society is grounded in racism. That, along with a hefty dose of real understanding of race/culture/ethnicity, might help her â€œbegin to connectâ€ to others.
Until then, Walker will continue to have all the authority of a third-rate freshman in a Sociology 101 class.
And that’s a charge I stand by.
Mr. Huey wrote a follow-up post about Walker’s role at GCS:
The Rhino Times reported back on March 29 of this year that Walkerâ€™s position as a diversity officer is a first for Guilford County Schools. See this excerpt:
Walker is not only new to the school system, but her position was just created in the 2006-2007 budget. Walker has never presented the board data at meetings. Walker has attended at least one of the boardâ€™s Shared Communications Committee meetings and she has attended a handful of community forums. Other than that, what exactly she does in that position has not been brought forth to the board and she is earning more than $80,000.
I looked at the job description for Walker’s position [PDF, opens in new window]. It’s a masterful 4-page display of mealy-mouthed eduspeak that offers little in the way of helping us understand the GCS Diversity Officer’s responsibilities [though it does mandate that a successful candidate must display a reasonable amount of "Manual Dexterity" and "Must have minimal levels of eye/hand/foot coordination"].
Huey’s research uncovered a resume full of unfortunate associations:
Walker is also listed on a site titled â€œAnti-Racist Allianceâ€œ. I brought up this site because this portion of this particular homepage is troubling:
This website is designed for individuals, educators, activists and trainers who are interested in participating a national movement for racial justice. . This is a curriculum designed to create change! By entering the curriculum on whiteness you will begin a journey into what it means to be white in America, the consequences of whiteness for people of color and reparations in the form of federal government initiatives to end disproportionality and poverty, the ultimate impact for racial equity
Sheâ€™s listed on this site as one of many folks peddling a $15 DVD on Internalizing Racial Oppression on behalf of PISAB.
It’s not far from what popped up recently in Delaware, that charming residence life program which reminded us that all whites are, by definition, racist oppressors.
Guilford County is a diverse place and GCS is a large system; that there’s a director of social/cultural programs is not unreasonable. But paying $80k to a race-baiter so she might advance her ideology – including convincing children that race is just a social construct while centuries of bred-in guilt [and all related reparations] is a necessary burden for every white – is outrageous. Walker should be ashamed of herself and the GCS board/administration should be doubly ashamed for promoting her service.
The District would know her harmful ruse [or at least have the opportunity to recognize and ignore it] if they had any clue what Walker does. Simply put, they don’t. From The Rhino Times:
Attending her first Guilford County Board of Education meeting since she was hired in August 2006, Chief Diversity Officer Monica Walker had no clear explanation as to why she had not been at any previous meetings, but she told board members at the Tuesday, Oct. 9 meeting that she has been very busy…
… Walker said much of her time has been spent providing â€œUndoing Racismâ€ training at Mission Possible schools.
Board members didnâ€™t have many questions for Walker, just a lot of thank yous for the work she is doing. Chairman Alan Duncan said he would like to â€œsee you more often from here on out.â€
To which, Walker said, â€œThatâ€™s OK. You donâ€™t have to.â€
Superintendent Terry Grier said Walker has one person helping her in her department and that he thought Walker was â€œcarrying a big load.â€ The support staff that Grier wanted to go along with Walkerâ€™s department was cut in the 2007-2008 budget.
â€œShe is doing a marvelous job,â€ Grier said, about Walker working with various departments.
A quick recap:
- She doesn’t go to meetings for the organization she’s charged with bringing together and stated clearly that she won’t in the future;
- Her job description is vague and open-ended;
- Board members don’t have a clear picture of what she does;
- She gets a thumbs-up anyway.
The Guilford community – and especially GCS – needs to recognize Walker for what she is: a paid advocate for a particular ideology, and a fairly unpalatable one at that. Any hiring manager examining Walker’s history and who is familiar with the culture of social work education [or view the latest comprehensive report on the National Association of Scholars website] would have raised an eyebrow long ago. Unfortunately, the GCS board and administration did not and the recent media coverage suggests that they will not.
So, in short, Guilford County will continue to lay claim to yet another ineffective, harmful and expensive diversity sham.
It’s the stuff of black comedy. We can only hope that GCS and its Superintendent Terry Grier will bring in The Bobs, Porter and Slydell, to ask that most necessary question:
And when Guilford County finally gets the answer, let’s hope they take the appropriate action.