by Kendall Tietz
A top equity administrator at the biggest school district in Indiana spent nearly an hour lecturing students about systemic racism and encouraged them to become activists, according to video taken of the lecture obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) has conducted numerous equity and racial justice initiatives, including student lectures and lessons, according to documents reviewed by the DCNF. In one Jan. 15 video, Dr. Patricia Payne, the director of the IPS Racial Equity Office explained to students that their black peers are sometimes considered “less than” and encouraged students to “stop all this madness,” as part of a “Racial Justice Speaker Series.”
The speaker series is a requirement of the “Interdisciplinary Social Justice Project” for the entire middle school at IPS’s Butler University Laboratory School 60, according to Tony Kinnett, the IPS district science coordinator & instructional coach and founder of Chalkboard Review, who provided the video to the Daily Caller News Foundation. The series was a part of a project that started in fall 2020 and continued through spring 2021.
“It sounds to me like you’re just interested in what’s going on in this world and why people can’t get along.” Payne told a student. “The systemic racism that is going on that touches the lives of all of us … you’ve heard with this Covid, how you’ve heard that black and brown people are affected most by the Covid. That’s because of systemic racism, see?”
“It’s because that we have always been considered ‘less than,’” Payne added. “So when you look at health, health has never been given to us like it should have been and so that’s why you see more, and more, and more cases of this Covid impacting black and brown people.”
There is also “environmental racism,” along with “human racism,” Payne said.
“The environment, oh my, there’s so much racism dealing with just the environment,” Payne responded to a student who expressed interest in the environment. “I’m telling you, this racism is something and it shapes the outcomes, even, of everything, see?”
Kinnett has been critical of IPS in recent weeks because he said the district is lying to parents about what their children are being taught.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
Equity initiatives and CRT pedagogy can be found in multiple subjects, including math, history, science, English and the arts, but IPS “told principals at the beginning of the year that if a parent asked if you’re teaching Critical Race Theory in your school, you tell them no,” Kinnett told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
One student asked Payne what her reaction was to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. She said it was “unbelievable,” how differently the people who breached the Capitol were compared to the Black Lives Matter protestors.
“On the 6th, it was like they almost had a personal tour of the Capitol as they went through and did their horrible, horrible, things,” Payne said. “That was one of the most vivid scenes of systemic racism that I have ever seen, right in living color. And I see you shaking your head, so you noticed it too, didn’t you?” she asked a student.
Racism is experienced by babies still in the womb, because of the healthcare their mothers get “simply because they are black,” Payne said.
“It doesn’t matter,” Payne said. “Simply because of the color of our skin. That’s why we’re counting on you all, you young people coming up, to stop all this madness.”
She said schools are actively discriminating against students of color in advanced and gifted classes.
“You all can see that actively going on now in schools, where you can look into gifted classes and there are very few students of color in those gifted classes,” Payne said. “But when you go into a special ed class you see a lot of, usually African American males, in those classes.”
Teachers are going through trainings right now to “make it easier” for kids “because we live in a racially constructed society,” where even black people internalize racism, Payne said.
“When you internalize racism, you start thinking that you are less than, just like everybody else does,” Payne said. “I won’t say everybody, but way too many people think that just because you have black skin you must be dumber, you don’t care about education, and all of these different negative stereotypes.”
Payne is very open about her pro-CRT stance, Kinnett said. She has hosted CRT scholars and frequently references the curricula’s founding theorists, he said.
“Patricia Payne has spent her time at IPS creating racial tension through her open support of Critical Race Theory,” Kinnett said. “Via her hosting of Gloria Ladson-Billings, her wild preaching for racial activism, or her incessant quoting of Kimberlé Crenshaw, she’s always ready to gaslight children against each other.”
IPS has denied teaching CRT on multiple occasions. Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said in an interview with Indy Politics that there is no evidence that CRT is being taught in the district or any other K-12 district.
“I deeply believe that we as a country have not gotten to a place where we can predict outcomes of how our students are going to do without regard to race,” Johnson said in the interview. “By and large, you’re going to find white students performing better and you’re going to find Black students performing worse.”
In a Aug. 24 joint email, Michelle Jackson, the executive director of teaching and learning and Nathalie Henderson, the chief schools officer, instructed IPS principals to deny that CRT is being taught at its schools, the Daily Caller previously reported.
On Oct. 18, the IPS hosted Gloria Ladson-Billings, the author of multiple books including “Critical Race Theory in Education: A Scholar’s Journey” and professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to be the keynote speaker at its district-wide professional development event.
Guest speaker and student activist, Taylor Hall, said unlike her counterparts, she has to worry about protesting for racial justice. She is a graduate of IPS’s Crispus Attucks High School and a current student at Ball State University, local station WTHR reported.
“My counterparts, they can just enjoy life, but we can’t enjoy life and the other things that come with it, because we have to work towards this goal,” Hall said. “Until we are treated equally, until we do have equity, and every facet of life will be affected, whether it’s education, healthcare, employment.”
Payne said one of the greatest hardships she experienced was the way she saw teachers treating black students “so horribly” because they “had evidently internalized this systemic racism that made them believe all these negative stereotypes about children who really looked like them.”
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Kendall Tietz is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Dr. Patricia Payne” by Indianapolis Public Schools.