Belmont Professor Lectures Brentwood High Students About Privilege and Social Change

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A Belmont University professor who specializes in social justice causes lectured Brentwood High School students Monday about how privileged and closed-minded they are and said it’s time they corrected themselves.

Brentwood High Principal Kevin Keidel invited that professor, Mona Ivey-Soto, to speak.

A Brentwood High parent who said he disapproved of Soto’s lecture provided The Tennessee Star with an audio recording of her lecture.

Before Soto spoke, Keidel delivered a lecture of his own. According to the audio, he said Brentwood High alumni, who now attend Harvard and Princeton universities, complained to him that school administrators didn’t do enough to make them better people.

“We took that to heart this summer. It doesn’t do us any good if you’re smart but you’re a bad person,” Keidel said in the recording.

“That is not what we want from you. We want you to be better people. We want you to be able to treat your classmates well. We want you to be able to treat your friends well.”

Keidel provided no specific examples of how past and present Brentwood High students were bad people. He described Soto as a Williamson County parent.

Soto introduced herself to students as someone who is “very passionate about public education and what it means to transform the world.”

“I pray there is a level of discomfort you might feel [because of what I say]. Why am I feeling uncomfortable and why is this pushing my buttons a certain way and what do I need to do to lean into that?” Soto told students.

“The process of becoming a better level of ourselves comes from experiencing a level of discomfort that moves us to a place of greater awareness and greater social change, and I believe that is what our public education system in our country should be all about — that positive place of social change for everyone.”

“If we can quickly acknowledge that there are underprivileged people, communities, schools, neighborhoods then we have to have the opposite, which is over privileged, and an acknowledgement we are not initiating a sense of guilt or remorse but rather a sense of stewardship,” Soto said.

“What do I do with the benefits that have been given to me? To seek the perspectives of people coming from different places? How do I resist stereotypes and biases about people who go to school down the street? If I am not doing those things then I am not actively working to open my heart and mind to other things,” she continued.

Soto then talked about how she and her family moved to Middle Tennessee from New York and how they had to adjust to what she called “the Williamson County Bubble.” Soto said she found a church to attend and sent her children to a Vacation Bible School.

“I went to go pick up my kids [from VBS] and, as I did, there was a sheer moment of pain and suffering on my children’s faces. This is strange. This is a happy place. We’re in a happy time of fun and learning. Why this?” Soto asked.

“My son said ‘Mom, we need to leave right now.’ We got out to the car. We shut the door, and my kid started to cry. He said ‘Mom, you’ll never believe what happened tonight. We were doing some Bible trivia and all of a sudden the team across the room from us started chanting ‘Build the Wall. Build the wall.’ And my daughter asked ‘Are they doing that to us because we’re brown? This is a church. People are supposed to be loving. How come no one said anything?’”

Williamson County School System officials announced in an email Sunday that Soto would speak at four grade-level assemblies to discuss racism.

The Star contacted all 12 WCS board members Monday evening and asked for comment, but none of them replied by press time.

Soto, according to her LinkedIn page, received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oregon

Listen to Soto’s lecture, as recorded in the room (there are echos):

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Mona Ivey-Soto” by Belmont University.






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39 Thoughts to “Belmont Professor Lectures Brentwood High Students About Privilege and Social Change”

  1. CJ

    The Principal’s comments were concerning. He posits that academics are no longer the primary mission. The stated objective is producing “good people” that are “positive productive members of society”. Smart kids who are “bad people” do not serve the collective good. Any other outcome is failure he cited.

    What are the Principal’s or WCS’s specific plans for churning out good people? How will they define “good and bad people?” In academics there are measurements and metrics for defining what success is. How will the they measure success for their new mission?

    Seems like a utopian nightmare.

  2. Bill

    Why did Mona send her kids to Williamson county schools and attend VBS at a church there when she could have supported the under priviledged with her wisdom and money say, in the metro inner city areas? Maybe she has a little more priviledged nature than she realizes. Or perhaps her agenda is longer reaching then what’s perceived in her indoctrination seminars.
    Ok Anthony, you’re up….

    1. BD

      Bill, have you not caught on? Anthony is actually Dr. Sota’s Spouse!! He works at Vanderbilt University. Here’s who he is … Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. His research interests include: the use of Intergroup Dialogue practices and pedagogy to critically engage social issues and the role of counter-narratives and ‘testimonios’ in creating culturally relevant educational spaces. Soto has spent much of his career in Education engaging topics of equity, diversity and inclusion. (Copied and pasted)

    2. Joy

      Dr. Ivey-Soto is a highly respected scholar and one who actually walks the walk and doesn’t just talk the talk. She even acknowledged her own privilege in the presentation. In fact, she has a daily ministry volunteering with families in need in various communities throughout Nashville. She has raised funds and used her own money to provide food, clothing, hygiene products, furniture, and help for housing.She spends hours weekly building relationships with single moms and children helping them move from unsheltered to adequate housing, helping them find employment and navigate the school system for their children. She helps mentor their kids and stays connected with them for a long time. She is a true inspiration and a reminder to people like me that I can do more to make the world a little better day by day.

  3. Courtney

    I was born and raised in Brentwood. I also know Dr.Ivey-Soto. Odds are, most of you commenting do not live in Brentwood, nor do you have children at Brentwood High School. You have showed up to an article that has “offended “ you, and you’re being combative and inflammatory. Just listen to what she is saying. It costs all of you nothing to look through the eyes of someone who is experiencing marginalization and isolation because of the color of their skin. Nothing. If you do have children at the school, take the time to listen to the experiences of children who are students with your children- they are hurting. Take the words from Dr. Ivey-Soto and at least consider them! This is at the core of Christianity! Micah 6:8- “What then does the Lord our God require of you? Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly”

  4. random comment

    two points. if you are conservative, be careful how you respond to issues like this. social justice activist feed on the emotional comments of select few and then paint the entire opposition of their destructive practices with the same broad brush. The same broad brush these SJWs love to claim they are fighting against. I listened to the lecture and got the feeling she watered down her comments to be moderate about the conversation. She brought religion into it to try and connect to the a certain groups regarding the incident with her kids at church. her message was basically, what you say based on your own experiences could be biased because you don’t know where the other person is coming from. She is correct, the problem is she wants you to discount your life experiences because you may not have the same struggles and that is your fault and you should automatically give deference and discount anything you may have accomplished because of your privilege. progressives want it both ways, they don’t care about what you right leaning, individual freedoms type of people think, you are the problem.

    meanwhile, any reciprocal incident in which a minority verbally or physically attacks someone that is not dealt with in the same manor. This happens just as much as the opposite incidents but you never hear of that and you never get the same outrage. That is not equality, that is hypocrisy.

    1. A P

      Exactly!! Why did her children think what was going on apart from them had anything to do with them? Sounds like she has brainwashed them to reject specific ideas & she expects the rest of the world to cater to that line of thinking. Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

  5. mikey whipwreck

    must have struck a cord since an apologist for her appeared and felt the need to respond to nearly every comment

  6. Beatrice Shaw

    I wonder if we can see her or hear her in some other venues? Does she have a podcast?

  7. Ms. Soto, why did you come here? If Middle Tennessee is so bad, why don’t you go back to New York where everything is perfect?

    1. Anthony

      JC, it is actually Dr. Ivey-Soto. And at no point in the presentation did she mention it was bad here in Middle Tennessee.

      1. BD

        Look Jermaine SOTA, spouse to Ivy.. We get that your wife is a doctor. We ALL GET IIT. I guess because I’m your elder you should address me as sir when you reply. You see that’s what we do in the south. It’s about respect, however that is earned. Your attempt at hiding yourself is now revealed. Although biased, I do respect that your attempt at defending your wife. Take your agenda back up North where you learned it. We sorta like things here which is probably why you came.

        1. Courtney

          “You like things here”? What does that mean? She was asked to come speak to incidences of racism. Is that what you like? I don’t. So don’t speak for all of us.

        2. ASP

          BD, You are entitled to your opinion here. You are not, however, in a place to advise anyone to “go anywhere” or tell anyone what is “done” in the south. It is hateful rhetoric not needed, nor does it actually support your stance on anything. I was born and raised in TN and I have have children in the Williamson County School System. I am a Christian who attends church in Williamson County. I welcome and am open to anything that teaches me and my family to look at something through a lens of ANY people group that looks different from me. It is NOT brainwashing, propaganda, indoctrination. It is simply called being a good human. Our family seeks to be a nice and healing people and are not ok with the “this is how we do it here” attitude. So, please have your opinion but DO NOT attack anyone in support of Dr. Ivey-Soto and her attempt at helping students understand a topic on empathy. Her talk is detrimentally misrepresented in this article. She was INVITED to speak on a topic of being supportive and empathetic.

          1. GS

            Please, what sanctimonious hogwash. I encourage everyone to look up her HOW TO teach your kid to be anti-racist presentation for the University School of Nashville. She doesn’t present in an inflammatory manner, but presents material from: Scott Woods(paraphrased for brevity “because you are white, you must live your life as a slave of everyone else…that is your penance”) and Ibram Kendi(“there are only racist ideas and anti-racist ideas”…where is a statue of Pythagoras we can spray paint and pull down?!). She puts up quotes which are clearly Marxist, but avoids addressing the really offensive sections. Oh and the massive amount of anecdotal evidence. As my son said after listening Monday…she had no solid science at all, just stories.

  8. mikey whipwreck

    so has the principal explained why he brought this woman to the school? how about sticking to reading, writing, and arithmetic?

    1. ASP

      Please stop referring to her as “this woman”. A college professor and Williamson County parent was invited to address the students on empathy and seeking to understand others.

    2. CJ

      Principal Keidel’s comments are concerning. He infers academics are secondary to the school’s mission. He posits that it doesn’t benefit the collective if students are incredibly smart but “bad people”. He advocates that the mission instead is developing “good people” who are a “positive productive part of society” and any other outcome is a failure.

      The Principal’s view raises serious questions. He seems to believe it is governments role to determine and teach our children morality. What is the definition good and bad people Mr Principal? If academics are no longer central, what specific plans do you or WCS have to churn out “good people”? In academics we have measurements and metrics to define success. How will you or WCS define the success success vs failure of this new mission?

  9. Bubba N.

    The Communists have a full-tilt indoctrination program in progress in the US. Resist these ghouls and tell them they are wrong. Never let the mob intimidate you.

    1. Anthony

      Bubba, where is there a communist message within this presentation? Do you even know what a Communist is? You are grouping anyone that does not think as you do as a communist. Listen to the presentation. There is no communist agenda here. Then read the bible, specifically the New Testament, and all the instances of Christ interacting with people who were different from him and perhaps you can see that this message of empathy and perspective taking and engaging across difference is not a communist message as you claim but a Christian one.

      1. GS

        From her presentation at USN, a quote from Scott Woods on a slide: (Racism) “It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

        She picked the quote. It is pure Marxism…he defined class by relation to ownership and control.

        Many oppressed people cheered Jesus entrance to Jerusalem because they thought that as the Messiah he would grant them liberation from Roman oppression. He said that his Kingdom is not of this world and then they demanded he be crucified and Barabbas freed.

        Similarly Liberation theology, Social Justice movements will, if successful, result it what Marxists always bring: death, tyranny and suffering.

  10. John

    Seeing how the NBA and the NFL teams are predominately made up of black millionaires, can we send an advocate to lecture them about black privilege?

  11. Woodworker

    Our son is a freshman at Belmont and had to sit through 2 hours of her “Social Justice” propaganda, on a Sunday evening no less. We immediately let the Bob Fisher know our thoughts.

    1. ASP

      Belmont is an esteemed education institution. Dr. Ivey-Soto is extremely intelligent and well versed in her field. I consider her education, training, research and background as not propaganda but as expertise. I respectfully disagree with you, sir.

    2. A P

      My niece left Belmont because of this indoctrination. They use their previous church affiliation to promote themselves as a Christian college but what they really are is an overpriced left leaning, brainwashing organization.

  12. David

    Principal Keidel has bad judgment and let a political activist come in to lecture kids. She has apparently told her kids that building a wall on the Mexican border is racist and based on hate. That isn’t true. Surely she asked the VBS teacher > “Why did the kids say that?”
    Principal Keidel >
    – Based on the Instagram posts, your school does the worst job of investigating student complaints of bullying and harassment. Talk to your teachers and admin staff. Asian and Indian kids, Gay kids and overweight kids are ridiculed.
    – Are you clueless? The professional social activists have a Narrative and usually it is White Privilege. That narrative is divisive. Read what Dr. King taught about Character. Teach the Golden Rule. Google “Empathy Training”.

  13. Karen Bracken

    If you REALLY want your kids to be good people GET THEM OUT OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM ASAP. Homeschool is the only safe place for now and I do not mean homeschool using the public school virtual learning that is taking place right now. That is not homeschool. Your kids are being indoctrinated to hate who they are, hate their family, hate their country and hate their belief in God. All the while these teachings are being disguised with warm and fuzzy words like social justice, privilege, white guilt and believe me your kids will not end up being “better people” because of this garbage. There is agenda and it is not going to end well.

    1. Anthony

      Karen, no where in this recording is there a hatefilled message. Listen to it. There is no agenda.

  14. Rick

    Belmont has fallen a long way and the school has been taken over by liberals with Bob Fischer, all that matters is money! An overpriced sad school today, myself and my daughter are both graduates.

    1. Anthony

      Rick, if you actually listened to the recording rather than lean on the slanted perspective of this ‘journalist’, then you would find that the message of empathy, compassion, perspective taking, and communicating across difference were the hilights, as well as calling on folks to be more compassionate and empathetic. Christian values – read the New Testament and all the moments Jesus engaged with folks across difference. Not a liberal stance but a truly Christian one.

      1. Susan

        I’m sorry Anthony I heard a principal tell an entire student body they were “bad kids.” So bad in fact that they as administrators they had failed. And in that context they were lectured to as a collective, not individuals–based on the bad behavior of a few–that they and their whole community were without empathy. “Mommy…how were [they] able to make all these statements and judgements on people [they] don’t know.” From the mouth of babes. How many of the hundreds of children subjected to her message did the lecturer actually know? Hypocrite much? This is the problem with Leftists that is causing so much divisiveness in our country: they are certain they know your character without knowing anything about you as an individual. The lecturer spoke as if she knew who these kids were as individuals based on the social-ecomonic status of the community they live it. That’s just wrong. And it’s not Christian.

  15. Julie

    Once you are in college if you are still not a good person you are likely not going to be. However, in this case being a better person likely means thinking as they do since there is no diversity of thought for the tolerant left. And, what might have made the VBS story great is if she as the adult had gone to the person running the thing to ask about the incident to determine what happened. Maybe between the adults a teachable moment for the kids could have been identified if appropriate? And maybe her kids would have felt better?

    1. Anthony

      Actually, Julie, Dr. Ivey-Soto did reach out to the pastor and teacher and asked what had happened. And the pastor was concerned with how the child felt when this was occurring. The pastor of the church showed more compassion and empathy than most people on this comments section and understood the context and tone of this group could scare a small child.

      1. Julie

        Then it would have been an important part of the story, Anthony. You really seem to have made an effort with all the responses to this article which is interesting. Dr. Ivey-Soto should know that examples with her presentation would have been more persuasive, particularly with those that may not agree with her. I would challenge her to think about her efforts as more than being a PhD, “expert,” or woman of color with personal experience regarding the topic at hand. If she really feels strongly with her perspective, how does she really become an agent of change particularly with those that don’t hold a liberal viewpoint?

    1. Anthony

      Cam, what has to stop? if it is the purposely slanted tone of this article including the use of tags like ‘critical race theory’ and ‘white privilege’ when these were not even a part of the presentation but intentionally used to rile up folks, then I agree. If it is a one sided piece that does not even attempt to reach out to the presenter to get her perspective, then I agree. If what has to stop are comments based on a singular focus and not interested in hearing other perspectives, much as the presentation stated about the importance of reconciliation, empathy and perspective taking, then i agree.

      1. Amy

        Amen- Thank you Anthony for trying to speak some truth and logic into this conversation. Your words are greatly appreciated, at least from some of us 🙂 again thank you.

        1. Traditional Thinker

          It’s ironic that those who push for social justice reference parts of scripture from the bible to make their case, yet ignore the most important commands. The most important command is to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul. The second, to love your neighbor as yourself. Nine out of ten of those who push for social justice are those who would or have fought to remove God from our school systems. Where is your bearing if the creator is removed? Do you really think that goodness is inherent? The scripture tells us that the heart of men is inherently evil actually. This is why your cause to detour around God will accomplish nothing. Also, access to God isnt merely for the priviledged. All are invited. But as for trying to push this specific cause that seems to do nothing more than fan the flames of decisiveness, maybe your act of change should be more inclusive. Your timing is terrible when those who have worked hard are seeing their businesses destroyed by those who are “culturally ” misunderstood. If you really want to bring change to this world, spread the gospel instead social disorderness.

          1. Courtney

            Which part of the Bible says that teaching scripture is commanded to be done in a public school system? I must’ve missed that verse. Also- the first Amendment is what keeps ALL religion out of schools – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. It sounds like you’re reaching for an excuse to not address what this thread is about- an educated doctor came to talk to students about respect, empathy and awareness. For some reason, that has bothered you- that is not an excuse to attack another or deflect the issue.