A Florida School Decided to Confront Complaints of Racism...Until a Diversity Curriculum Caused 'Angst'

Illustration for article titled A Florida School Decided to Confront Complaints of Racism...Until a Diversity Curriculum Caused 'Angst'
Image: Bartek Zyczynski (Shutterstock)

It’s called the “Caucasian Corollary.”

Most social, economic, political or even theoretical problems can be solved by addressing the situation, figuring it out, and implementing a strategy to solve the dilemma. If you’re sick, you find out what’s ailing you and you take medicine. To find the answer to 128 divided by 17, you ask Alexa. Even a bumblebee, when threatened, will ask the queen for a lunch break and stab you with its bootyknife (yes, that’s the correct biological term).


However, in Caucasianomics, there is one exception—racism.

Apparently, white supremacy is the only problem on the face of the Earth that can be fixed by ignoring it. While white people can just “move forward,” into a world where they “don’t see color,” the Caucasian Corollary requires Black people to shut the hell up and stop making white people uncomfortable. If we “stop bringing up race,” white people will somehow spontaneously stop perpetuating the harm that they have committed against us for 400 years.

Not only have future former racists carved out this singular problem-solving exception for themselves, but a prestigious private school has also formed an entire educational philosophy around it. The overwhelmingly white 88-year-old institution recently reversed course on addressing its race problem by implementing the Caucasian Corollary.

Founded in 1933, the Bolles School serves pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students for a meager $12,000 to $29,000 per year. Students can also opt to live in one of four Florida campuses for the paltry sum of $59,310. Bolles is 78 percent white and 4.5 percent Black, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (because, of course, Bolles’ diversity equity and inclusion page would never mention that).

In June 2020, a group of former and current Bolles’ Black students published a list of demands for Bolles, based on their experiences at the school. The petition demanded the termination or resignation of six faculty members, the banning of the Confederate flag, the acceptance of Black hairstyles, a more diverse faculty and a zero-tolerance policy for racism.

Seems fair. It’s not as if they asked the school to do something impossible, like not be racist. They just wanted the people at Bolles to act as if they weren’t racist. The petition was accompanied by an Instagram account detailing the experiences of students, alumni and parents dealing s with racism at the school.


This was not new. Sure, it’s understandable when one yearbook bio explained that a 1968 Bolles student spent time in activities such as the KKK, the “Ethiopian Music Club,” while “preparing to study agitation and become a professional bigot.” The blackface yearbook photos are a whole other thing.


But that was way back in the olden days.

The 1980s.

Illustration for article titled A Florida School Decided to Confront Complaints of Racism...Until a Diversity Curriculum Caused 'Angst'
Photo: Bolles Academy Yearbook

I’m sure it’s different now.

The school initially decided to solve its race problem with the same strategies employed by bumblebees and mathematicians. According to documents obtained by The Root, the schools’ president, chairman of the board and the director of inclusion and diversity issued a joint letter announcing that they would create a diversity task force, hire more Black faculty and implement a more diverse curriculum by “expanding diversity and inclusion programming for faculty, students and parents in all grade levels.”


“As the @BlackAtBolles Instagram account and other social media forums have displayed, the Bolles community needs to do better, to be better and to make change,” the letter, dated July 17, 2020, began. “We have been listening, and we are fully committed to be a better Bolles. But most importantly, we are committed to act — now. Racism of any kind will not be tolerated in our community. As communities and organizations around the world are challenged to account for painful histories of systemic racism and inequities, schools, in particular, must work to ensure an environment of true equity and inclusion.”

And they actually followed through. After hiring consultants and attended workshops, the school informed students, parents and alumni that they would integrate racial literacy into their curriculum. They settled on a program from the squirmishly named Pollyanna, a “national nonprofit helping academic and other institutions achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.”


Then, out of nowhere, the school changed its mind.

In a Jan. 26 letter to stakeholders, the school revealed a complete course reversal, announcing that they weren’t really ’bout that not-being-racist life. They had literally found a solution to their problem but because “certain elements of the Pollyanna curriculum created much angst amongst our community,” the institution concluded that “finding common ground and solutions is not a quick fix and will take time.”


“After careful consideration,” explained the board chair and the school president, “we decided not to move forward with it and will explore other diversity initiatives and resources that we believe will strengthen Bolles and ensure that the School is a welcoming and supportive community for everyone.”

So what happened?

Well, according to News4Jax, on Jan. 20, six days before the school reneged, four wealthy donors emailed a letter to a group of over 30 Bolles stakeholders. Written by A. Chester Skinner III, Richard Dostie, Clancey Houston, Rodney McLauchlan and William Lynch—all former chairmen of the Bolles’ board of trustees—the letter condemned the school for “responding to social agendas, requiring these agendas in our curriculum and telling students how to think.” The four horsemen of the antiracist apocalypse told the school, in no uncertain terms, to stop tolerating this tolerance BS...or else.


“Our goal should be unity, not promoting any sub-group based on religious beliefs, skin color, ethnicity or sexual preferences,” explained the old white men who don’t want their grandchildren to unite with non-white, non-heterosexual children. “This does nothing but breed division, not understanding.”

When asked which part of the curriculum compromised the school’s mission, the white men did not respond.


But school president Tyler Hodges insists the former board chairmen’s letter had “had absolutely no bearing on our decision to change course on our curriculum implementation,” Hodges said in an emailed response to News4Jax. “The decision to pursue alternative enhancements to our curriculum was made weeks earlier...Members of faculty, staff, and members of our community had issues with various parts of the curriculum, including, in some cases, its age-appropriateness.”

However, one current student told The Root that the racial atmosphere at Bolles has been rather pleasant recently. She acknowledges the school’s past problems but, she couldn’t recall a single incident that made her feel uncomfortable this year. But, she had a great explanation for her racism-free year at Bolles.


“I’ve been online a year now,” the student told The Root. “It’s a lot less stressful.”

To be fair, four old white men might know about what’s going on at a school they attended four decades ago more than a current Black student who has actually experienced racism. Fortunately, she has come up with a solution to her predicament.


“I’m trying to get permission to stay online for my last year,” the student told The Root. “Prayers.”

“We tried to answer your prayers” read a reply from heaven’s board of trustees. “Although they rejected our solution, we do understand their feelings. They might not be familiar with our work.”


“I wouldn’t let my son near that place,” said God L. Mighty, chief officer of diversity, inclusion and creation, adding:

“Have you ever heard of Caucasian Corollary?”

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.


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