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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Parent of New Trier student opposes Seminar Day discussion for poor representation of blacks


By Cheyenne Dickerson | Feb 15, 2017

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Robert Blackwell, a parent of a child at New Trier High School, has publicly proclaimed his complete opposition to the Feb. 28 Seminar Day at New Trier.

He went to Facebook to post his anger regarding the subject.

“I am offended that Black Lives Matters was invited to speak at the school,” Blackwell said on his page.

The All Day Seminar at New Trier is a mandatory workshop day: students are required to attend. “Understanding today’s struggle for racial civil rights” will include workshops such as “From Kareem to Kaepernick: Athlete activists in the modern era” and “Realizing King's radical realization of values.”

To learn more, North Cook News asked Blackwell why he wrote the social media post.

“I wrote the post because after looking at the topics being presented as a part of Seminar day, I did not find them appropriate for my daughter or other adolescents,” he told North Cook News. “The specific outcomes of Seminar Day are unclear to me.”

Blackwell explained that he feels this type of event is not helpful to the students in attendance, nor does it explain how white students should understand blacks across the country.

“If whites want to better understand blacks, then they should go get to know some black families by either inviting them to their homes or the school,” he said. “Blacks are not lab animals that need to be studied in seminars.”

The seminar could be responding to how a black student at New Trier was treated, Blackwell added, but he sees the response as neither ideal nor appropriate.

“If the objective is to address the inappropriate behavior of some young people at the school, then the school should address that issue directly,” he said.

Blackwell stated the topics and workshops offered at Seminar Day completely “miss the mark” when teaching students about blacks.

“There should be some sessions on what economic systems deliver the best results in taking people from poverty to prosperity,” he said. “Those sessions could involve presenters with some background in history and economics with varying viewpoints on how best to accomplish those goals.”

Blackwell is an avid researcher and supporter of understanding the advancement of black people’s economic situations.

He is wary of his daughter attending one workshop in particular, "Blackeconomics 101," which highlights rap songs and their meanings.

“I would never let my daughter listen to that or let anyone give her the impression that it is okay for her to speak like that or that being black means that it is acceptable to be vulgar in order to express yourself,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell went on to state that he couldn’t imagine former President Barack Obama and his wife sitting in on this workshop, listening to it and being proud of its values.

“I can, however, imagine teenagers listening to this when they are together and thinking that this is how black people really are and how they see the world,” he said.

Blackwell expressed his thoughts on his personal social media page in hopes that it would receive support from likeminded parents facing a similar situation.

“I expressed my thoughts to other parents about why I think the presentations in Seminar Day do not reflect the attitudes of most parents and especially black parents,” he said. “I do not want my daughter to be taught that black people are really different from the people in her family.”

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