Local News

Parent, Rush Limbaugh criticize Raleigh elementary school over 'white privilege' handout

Posted April 6, 2018 9:39 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— A Wake County elementary school has found itself at the center of a local and national debate about race after an elementary school PTA sent a letter home recently to some students’ homes that attempted to explain “white privilege.”

A district spokeswoman confirmed to WRAL News Friday that the Hunter Magnet Elementary School PTA distributed a handout last week that had a definition of how white Americans benefit from their race in ways that minorities do not.

Lisa Luten said in an email that the school’s PTA chapter allowed parents to choose whether or not they wanted their students to receive the document.

Classroom

It was not immediately clear how many of the school’s students received the letters or how they were distributed. PTA officials were not immediately available for comment.

Amber Pabon, who is black, said her son came home with the handout, which included information on the percentage of white people in leadership roles.

She said the concept is too complicated for her son to comprehend, and she feels it was inappropriate.

"He's only eight years old," she said. "He's more worried about making friends and just getting along with each other...he's not going to school to learn about race."

The handout is part of an 11-step program about race, which is led by the PTA Advocacy Team.

Pabon was told she can opt her son out of the program, which she has decided to do.

News of the handout prompted national coverage Friday on some conservative outlets, including on the talk shows of Rush Limbaugh and Todd Starnes, who accused local school leaders of trying to sway children politically.

"This business in Raleigh, folks, this is happening all over the country," Limbaugh said. "And now these little worksheets are being passed out to second graders, they take them home."

Limbaugh, whose radio program draws several million American listeners from coast to coast, accused the PTA of pursuing a liberal agenda by distributing the handouts.

"But now 8-year-olds, second graders in North Carolina,” are being exposed to this, Limbaugh said. “And I’m sure this is not the only place this is happening. And this is Raleigh, North Carolina, not long ago considered a Red State.”

The handout included a definition and explanation of white privilege as well as questions for people to identify the effects of white privilege in everyday life. It was part of an effort by the PTA to raise awareness about race and racial issues.

"White dominates the culture, from our government leaders to our professors to our media stars," the handout reads. "Yet – for the most part, for too many White Americans – whiteness remains unexamined."

The handout prompted commentary on social media from parents and people around the country, some supporting the PTA's efforts to start a conversation on race issues in the schools, other deeming it inappropriate for elementary school students.