“I’m Holding Myself Accountable”: California Teacher Cancels Herself As A White Person Teaching Spanish

We have seen in recent years that public attestations of being a racist have become more common among academics. Last year, we discussed the controversy over the acting Northwestern Law Dean declaring publicly to “I am James Speta and I am a racist.” He was followed by Emily Mullin, executive director of major gifts, who announced, “I am a racist and a gatekeeper of white supremacy. I will work to be better.” Recently, Brandeis’ Assistant Deans, Kate Slater, has triggered a similar controversy after declaring “all white people are racists.”  Some have gone further. At CUNY, the Law Dean Mary Lou Bilek cancelled herself for once referring to herself as a “slaveholder” in a meeting in arguing for greater protections for minority students. Now, an Oklahoma State PhD student  and teacher Jessica Bridges has cancelled herself from teaching Spanish because she is white.

Bridges’ testimonial on Instagram was picked up by a couple conservative sites after she participated in a conference at Southern Connecticut State University’s “Virtual Women’s and Gender Studies Conference” in April. A “White Accountability & Anti-Racist Education” workshop had a session on “White Women’s Work: Lessons from Engaging in Antiracist Work.” Bridges used the occasion to read a statement of self-cancellation due to her race:

“Learning Spanish from a white woman … I wish I could go back and tell my students not to learn power or correctness from this white woman. I would tell them to stand in their own power. White isn’t right.”

I’m holding myself accountable to this journey. Part of my accountability is to continue to struggle and grapple with my internalized white supremacy. Dismantling white supremacy in society looks like dismantling in my heart, first. It means I’m not going to teach Spanish. Accountability is ongoing because there is not end to the process.”

Under this theory, no white person should teach Spanish, a European language, to minority students.

Bridges also described how she corrected her “Latinx” students not to call themselves Hispanics because it was “the colonizers’ term” and they are not from Spain.

Another teacher at the conference declared that white teachers should only teach in white schools.

The import of these comments is that we should return to a type of segregation of teachers by race with minority teachers teaching minority students or at schools with a majority of minority students. These views were received with approval from others at the conference.

While Bridges and the other teachers were discussing what sounded like voluntary acts of self-cancelled or selection, any such policy at a public school would violate the Constitution under the Fourteenth Amendment. It also contradicts the vision of Martin Luther King who famously declared “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Obviously, any teacher can self-cancel as an unqualified or inappropriate choice for a given subject or a given student population. However, the use of race as such a determinative criteria (without reference to the teacher’s other qualifications or skills) is deeply troubling.

The question is how far this theory extends.  Should white teachers self-cancel in teaching any other language to minority students? How about teaching race issues in law school or anthropology classes?  We have seen similar calls being made at universities.

We need to have a real discussion of the use of such racial classifications to bar (either by mandate or choice) professors from teaching in these areas. These are faculty who spent their lives researching and writing in areas due to a deep personal and intellectual connection. A high school teacher may be White but also be an extraordinary teacher of Spanish.

These teachers clearly feel deeply about correcting what they see as the hold of racism and white privilege in education. That would make for a wonderful and informative debate at universities, which should value a diversity of viewpoints. However, these conferences often seem to exclude opposing viewpoints on these issues. They often seem like echo chambers for the participants. I do not mean to make that assumption about all of the participants or sessions at this conference. However, this particular session would have benefited from greater diversity in viewpoints and an exploration of the implications of such racial classifications for education on the high school and university levels.

122 thoughts on ““I’m Holding Myself Accountable”: California Teacher Cancels Herself As A White Person Teaching Spanish”

  1. Psst – geniuses: there are white, or light skinned people in virtually every single different culture and ‘race’ on earth. Blue eyes, too. This self-flagellation nonsense is blatant racism, and it has already gone waaay beyond the pale. There is one race: the human one. I could give a cr*p about being cancelled.

  2. You know what’s worse than self-cancellation? Being so invested in thoroughly bankrupt ideology that you’ll ruin you own career in service to it.

  3. Who’s going to tell her that Spain is a European country, and its inhabitants are white?

    There is Visigoth, Celt, and Amazhig in the nation’s ancestry. Some of them got a little darker with the Muslim conquest, although the Amazhig carried blonde and blue eyed traits.

    Are descendants of European countries to segregate, as well? Can only Scottish descendants learn Gaelic?

    Registration for college classes is going to become a lot more complicated if one has to prove the proper ancestry in order to participate or teach certain classes. It’s getting a lot more like Germany of the 1930s. Should we wear a badge or something to advertise our lineage, and therefore our societal worth?

    1. Someone needs to point out also that white culture(s) is demonstrable superior to others which is why the rest of the world fights to break in.

      1. Yes, I’ve maintained that white privilege is actually white accomplishment. The European/US model is the one that’s been most successful. The ones that haven’t adopted it are for the most part still third world countries. Those that have, like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the late Hong Kong are quite prosperous and successful.

        1. George Obama, Barrack’s brother, opined the same thing in the Dinesh D’Souza documentary. He was comparing the progress of Kenya to other African countries that had run the colonizers out.

  4. It’s she going to pay back all the money she earned over the course of teaching Spanish? Kind of like reparations?

  5. This is how to divide people along racial lines, so as to more easily conquer and control them. This is 0bama’s community organizer/fascist method.

    1. The divide and conquer strategy has long been part of the Marxist playbook. You can see that in the great cartoon, “Make Mine Freedom,” shown below. This cartoon was made more than 70 years ago. It was true then and it’s true today. Note the warning in it: “When anybody preaches disunity, tries to pit one of us against the other through class warfare, race hatred, or religious intolerance, you know that person seeks to rob us of our freedom and destroy our very lives.”

    1. No, but stupidity is contagious, those infected must be quarantined or isolated lest the infection spread.
      That is our current dilemma, we have no protocols in place to stop the spread.

  6. As a Caucasian member of a postgraduate teacher certification program at the University of Hawaii in the early 2000s, the fact that I had a B.A. in anthropology and wanted to teach secondary social studies was problematic to several professors and I was subtly advised to consider another career.

  7. Everyone agrees that with one exception racism is loathsome. The one exception is the racism against 65% of the population. The people who promote this anti-white racism are the dregs of society. And it doesn’t matter what color they are. There is no excuse for this insanity. Nothing good can come from it.

  8. “I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.” –Booker T. Washington

  9. These woke self-criticisms are struggle sessions, a la Mao’s Cultural Revolution, but with US characteristics. Self-loathing persons, or mentally ill persons, engage in such self-destructive activities, and only see people by the color of their meat-suits, or the body’s gender. The sad part is that they actually believe they are helping themselves and others. Welcome to Marxism-Leninism-Mao tse-Tung- Xi Jinping Thought.

  10. What a waste of energy and time to have to opine on these silly little people.

  11. Why is she SPEAKING Spanish? This is cultural misappropriation of a lived experience. Also, she should not be a teacher at all since that is perpetuating a white, racist, systemic structure. Teachers should be only minority, since the truth is only found in lived experiences. This is critical race theory 101. If minority people can not see this, they should be educated to recognize the blatant racist oppression. This requires an arbiter. One who is minority and adept at Critical Race Theory.

  12. As an ancestor of a slaveholder, I hereby cancel myself from taking the garbage out.

  13. I guess she can only teach English.
    “Those who can: do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.”

    1. I hate that maxim. Though, the last part, unfortunately seems to hold true far too often. 🙁

      Great teachers know their subject thoroughly and know how to convey the content, the value of it, and their enjoyment of the subject, their craft, and their students.

    2. My version goes like this…
      “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, become politicians.”

  14. Not sure what teaching spanish has to do with white supremacy but the faster these crazy people exit schools the better.

  15. I appreciate this person acknowledging they should not be trusted with educating any child.

    And what I am evidently learning is that…. George McGovern was right?

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