On December 14, 2012, a murderer opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary school killing 26 people. As there are with any tragic stories, there were acts of heroism that created a silver lining in a terrible situation like that of Jesse Lee Lewis who stayed by his teacher’s side and helped other kids escape; while doing so, he was shot and killed. Inspired, his mother Scarlet Lewis created the Jesse Lee Lewis Choose Love Movement to help individuals who need emotional support and thus school culture at large.
The majority of this curriculum for Pre-K through 12th graders includes useful lessons about courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and other important life skills, but some are counterproductive. One lesson titled, “Courage, Privilege, and oppression” begins by having the students define and discuss where these terms are seen in society. The students then take an adapted version of activist Peggy McIntosh’s famous “White Privilege Checklist.”
While this curriculum is supposed to unify and help school culture, blanketly labeling all white males as privileged is going to do nothing but harm—especially when disenfranchised teen white males are the most likely to cause violence in a school. These individuals don’t see themselves as privileged and they usually aren’t; many have had unstable family lives and are even suicidal. Telling these people that they have had an easier life will only isolate them further.
We should be supporting these students by listening to their stories, not minimizing them. This curriculum should be aiming to encourage students to listen to others’ stories and ideas rather than telling them that certain students have it easier based on nothing but their gender and race.
Rather than espousing a dichotomy of privilege and victimhood, the curriculum should foster conversations about how everyone has burdens and the means to overcome them. We should be helping all students form relationships and help them find professional help if they need it.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.