Newly released materials shed light on a training session in which Missouri middle school teachers were pressured to endorse certain ideas about race and told that "covert" white supremacy included things like "colorblindness."
Handouts leaked to Discovery Institute researcher Chris Rufo showed an "oppression matrix" with an effective hierarchy of social groups, along with a handout delineating between various forms of white supremacy. Under "covert," the handout listed "all lives matter," "white silence," "claiming reverse-racism," "calling the police on Black people," and "treating kids of color as adults." It seems to compare these things to "lynching," "hate crimes," and "burning crosses" which it classified as overt and socially unacceptable forms of white supremacy.
The event, reported by Rufo on Wednesday, was hosted by Springfield Public School employees who indicated that not speaking out about these issues was problematic. Leaked audio reviewed by Fox News includes one of the trainers, Jeremy Sullivan, saying that it wasn't okay for someone to just be against racism. When one man said he was afraid to say anything, Sullivan asked: "What might an underrepresented or underresourced student say in regards to our fear of speaking up?"
The audio featured a female voice referencing the idea that "silence is violence" and not speaking up as allies for Black Lives Matter meant you were against the movement.
"So, there's a saying -- go back with me to high school -- I was a high school debater," Sullivan responded. "We had a saying, if someone dropped one of your arguments, like you would always say, well silence is compliance, because if someone doesn't address, then they must be actually going along with it. And truth be told, right now, the stance of Springfield Public Schools is we do address it. We don't stay silent when we see underrepresented or underresourced students or staff members experiencing any of this stuff."
"And it's going to be uncomfortable, and we're going to get into a little bit more of that here in a little bit when we talk about what does it mean to be an anti-racist educator, but Springfield is taking the stance that it's no longer okay to just be against racism. We have to all actively be working to take a stand against racism within our schools and within our communities."
At one point in the audio, a man asks whether the goal of the training was to make teachers "Marxists."
"Is the district saying that we should be Marxists?" he asked. "And the reason I'm asking is that while I think there’s not a person in the room that doesn’t agree that this is an important topic and should be dealt with, the way that it is being framed comes from Herbert Marcuse who took and stripped all of the economic policies out of Marxist theory and turned it into critical race theory."
The problem with that is that it silences anybody who has any kind of disagreement or other ideas. It pushes a narrative that like, for example, you said that this country was founded on racism. That's not true," he told another trainer Myki Williamson. "It was founded on religious freedoms from the pilgrims ... and then racism was a part of it."
The man went on to claim that he "grew up the son of a black man. He raised me to believe in Dr. King’s teachings" -- an apparent reference to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Dr. King did not teach the kind of vitriol that we see out of Marxism. Marxism has a long replete history of countries being bigoted and prejudiced against others and then murdering millions as a result of it."
Williamson and Sullivan denied the district's goal was to embrace Marxism.
The event started with a "land acknowledgment," which focused on honoring "the Native and Indigenous Peoples whose land we currently gather on."
It added that "in doing social justice work, it is important we acknowledge the dark history and violence against Native and Indigenous People across the world. In this work, we are committed to promoting, supporting and affirming all communities, especially those that are marginalized."
Neither nor Williamson responded to Fox News' requests for comment.
A statement from Springfield Public Schools read: "Springfield Public Schools is pleased to provide robust professional development. This includes a focus on how to build welcoming learning environments for students and staff of all backgrounds. It is our responsibility and privilege to serve all people, ensuring every individual within our schools has an opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential."
It added: "Our commitment to all students and staff, including those who are under-resourced and underrepresented, is reflected in our strategic plan, which includes a focus on equity and diversity. Staff training encourages participants to consider how their individual journey may differ from the experiences of others. It provides a valuable perspective for all educators and support staff. Subsequent media coverage has inaccurately represented this training by reporting incorrect and/or incomplete information, without appropriate context."
News of the training came on the same day that President Biden rolled backed his predecessor's executive order opposing critical race theory. Rufo responded by announcing a legal coalition with the aim of bringing a lawsuit before the Supreme Court.
Schools and governments across the nation have reportedly seen training like these in the wake of Floyd's death last year. Fox News reported earlier this week on how one of Biden's education nominees hosted a training with a speaker who claimed schools "spirit murder" Black children.
During the Missouri training, participants viewed an 8 minute and 46-second silent video of George Floyd in memory of the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on Floyd's neck. The video closed with some of Floyd's last words calling out for his mother.
When a participant suggested parents might complain about the words being taken out of context in a video like that, Sullivan pushed back.
"I want to push back a little bit against something that you just said because you said they're only going to see the words like they did in the video as opposed to the content. George Floyd gave a cashier a $20 counterfeit bill ... there is no death penalty in the United States for using a counterfeit $20 bill. That's the context there."
Others have noted the context included Floyd resisting arrest, something that was revealed in bodycam footage released after his death.