by James A. Bacon
Racial slurs and hate speech are on the rise in Loudoun County public schools, according to data released by the school system. 40 incidents were reported in March alone, although monthly numbers have declined slightly since then.
“They have increased significantly since February in particular and remain high,” Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis told the school board on Tuesday. “These are very worrying data.” This is what many media also report as WTOP News.
Yes, it’s troubling to see such an increase, especially considering that reports of hate speech were extremely low at the start of the school year – three to five incidents per month. There are many questions, the most important of which is why. why Has the number of reported hate speech exploded? Have Loudoun County schools turned into hotbeds of racism overnight? If so, what does that tell us about the effectiveness of the school board’s years of effort to remove racism from the system? Clearly it doesn’t work. Indeed, the school board’s aggressive “anti-racism” policies appear to have proved spectacularly counterproductive.
Perhaps the lesson is this: if you want to end racism, stop talking about race.
The Loudoun County School Board was obsessed with race and passed that obsession on to administrators, teachers, students and parents with endless rhetoric about racial equality, white privilege, black victimization and all the rest of leftist catechism. It’s fair to say that the Loudoun school community is much more racially conscious than it was just a few years ago. As political hyperbole from school officials and parents mounted, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the students’ unfiltered, youthful speech reflected these antagonisms.
What the WTOP article fails to explain is why the spike occurred in early 2022? I expect some people will suggest that the election of Governor Glenn Youngkin gave people permission to freely express their inner racism. However, Youngkin championed the promise of ridding schools of “inherently divisive concepts” — indeed tone down the rhetoric. Furthermore, I have seen no evidence that hate speech has increased anywhere other than in Loudoun.
I’d be more alert to a shift in rhetoric that was taking place in Loudoun County itself. What were the issues at school board meetings and other public forums earlier this year? Could they have played a role?
Another possibility is that the increase in reporting did not reflect an underlying change in behavior at all, but was an artifact of the Loudoun School’s policies encouraging reporting of incidents that would otherwise have been ignored. Has the government stepped up publicity for its protocol to respond to racist abuse and hate speech in schools? Have school leaders started asking students to report hate speech? Alternatively, has the administration broadened the definition of what constitutes “racial slur” or “hate speech” to count more incidents? These questions should be answered before drawing any concrete conclusions about the state of race relations in Loudoun.
Could the protocol itself be part of the problem? One approach to dealing with racial slurs would be to call the offending child to the principal’s office, give him or her a dressing down, and notify parents. But in Loudoun County, such a response would only be the beginning. Aside from notifying parents, the administration would “investigate the incident,” “denounce the act on the school campus and in the broader school community,” and then provide “social-emotional support to the aggrieved students and known witnesses” by providing mental health services the school involves team. The offending student would receive “a disciplinary sanction” and “complete a reflection session related to the incident.”
Under the Loudoun Protocol, racial slurs and hate speech are to be treated as traumatic events. Schools have Unified Mental Health Teams made up of counselors, social workers, psychologists and student assistants. Depending on the circumstances, they may meet with the “damaged” student – and this includes witnessing the hurtful words – provide support “until the special care level” is no longer deemed necessary, work to repair student relationships, initiate restorative circles, engage with parents, and pursue other actions.
It’s easy to imagine an incident or two doing so much to raise racial consciousness that it creates a cascading effect.
The natural inclination of most Americans today—especially Americans from educated, higher-income families like those in Loudoun—is to ignore race and treat people as individuals. If you asked Loudouunites about race, I’m confident they would be as race-blind as anyone in America. But the far-left progressives do not want a race-blind society. They want to reshape society in line with their ideals and identity politics, and racial grievances are their route to power. You will never let go.
It’s a good bet that the progressives who run Loudoun’s schools will use the latest hate speech numbers as justification to redouble their policy of eradicating racism. I can assure you that such a policy will achieve the opposite of what is intended.