Santa Barbara School Teacher’s Rant Is All Wrong
Starshine Roshell Sets the Record Straight
It’s been a minute since I wrote a column — for a couple of reasons.
Like many folks, I’ve been desperately trying to ferret out some Zen in this frustrating COVIDy world. You know, to find that healthy, elusive balance between “responsibly engaged” and “on the verge of a primal scream.”
Also, frankly, I was sick of my own voice. If our nation has learned anything lately, it’s that we need to make room in our media diets for more underrepresented points of view — and fewer ranting white women.
But then two ranting white women went and #^¢%ed up my Zen.
A Santa Barbara Unified School District teacher recently posted a YouTube video denouncing the district’s Culturally Responsive Curriculum, a web page of resources for teachers who want to educate themselves or their students about autism, women’s history, LGBTQ+ issues, and how to be an ally to people of color.
In her video — complete with ominous music — teacher Christy Lozano walks viewers specifically through the antiracism materials, calling them “cruel, misguided, counterproductive, radically political, divisive, and abusive.”
A mom, ordained minister, and Air Force vet who has taught at six local schools from elementary through high school, Lozano puts “ally” in air quotes and suggests that dwelling on “past grievances” only sows “blame and shame.” I’m not sure if she’s referring to centuries of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, or the systemic inequities that existed up until the moment she recorded this video, but I found myself hoping she doesn’t teach history.
Ever horny for an opportunity to trash woke culture, Fox News picked up the story. Ranting white gal #2 Laura Ingraham featured Lozano and her “shocking undercover video” on The Ingraham Angle, praising the teacher for “bravely bringing to light the vile racializing of her school curriculum.”
“It’s psychological warfare,” Lozano told Fox viewers. “I will go down fighting if I need to.”
And I think she’s gonna need to.
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For one, Lozano’s claims are factually incorrect. She says the materials are “being concealed from parents”; in fact, they’re on a page with tons of other teacher resources, including state standards, on the password-protected employee intranet where teachers also sign up for health benefits and report broken classroom equipment. Hardly a Covert Brainwashing Sanctum.
Lozano claims teachers are expected to teach this “curriculum” in their classrooms; the district says nope, it’s just a resource, totally voluntary. She claims teachers are trained with it every month; the district says … huh?? That’s not a thing.
But this is: In our school district, people of color represent 64 percent of students, but only 28 percent of educators. And in a 2020 study, our teachers overwhelmingly said they didn’t feel prepared to teach students from historically marginalized backgrounds — and wanted help doing so. Hence the resources! Get it?
The irony of Lozano’s protests would be funny if it weren’t so sad. One page she highlights as destructive and toxic offers advice for white allies to people of color: “Teach your children about racism,” “Find out about us,” “Don’t assume you know what’s best for me,” and “Don’t take it personally.” (Oops.) Another explains what non-white teachers need from their allies: “One refrain we heard again and again is that white educators … frequently consider antiracist work something outside of their responsibility.”
At one point in her video, Lozano bristles at the term “white fragility” — and her bristling is literally the definition of white fragility.
In some ways, I get it. It’s uncomfortable when your belief that you’re a decent person bumps up against the assertion that your privilege and blissful ignorance have caused harm to others. To neighbors. To classmates. To colleagues.
But an evolved person soon realizes that guilt, anger, and fear are neither necessary nor productive, and instead asks … “How can I help?” Lots of us hope our kids will evolve in exactly that way — and that our school district will help.
Look, I’m no expert in cultural communication. I don’t speak for marginalized voices. I still have a lot to learn about antiracism, and it doesn’t always feel good. But it boils down to this: We can rant all we want, but Lozano and Ingraham and I no longer get to decide what’s best for everyone.
And that’s just as well. Because now I’m sick of their voices, too.
Starshine Roshell is the author of Lather, Rage, Repeat: Frank Talk on Night Sweats, Day Drinking & Twitler.
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