“I stand on the shoulders of those people that came before me. There are people counting on me to step up and say what needs to be said, and do the things that need to be done to move the needle forward towards progress and meaningful change in this country.”
-Dr. James Whitfield, episode 262 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
On this special episode, educator Dr. James Whitfield tells his remarkable story. Whitfield made headlines recently after being fired as Principal of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas. The reason? A conservative community alleged he was adding Critical Race Theory to the curriculum. (To be clear: he was not.)
But how did this happen? Whitfield begins by sharing a presentation he co-lead on diversity in our schools (5:41), an impassioned email he wrote to parents in aftermath of George Floyd’s unjust murder (10:00) and the eventual backlash that came from it (15:27), leading to accusations of Whitfield bringing CRT into the classrooms (24:05). Then came the “controversial” photos of Dr. Whitfield and his wife (26:40), revealing the deep-seated racism of his community (28:14). A community that uses the cover of Christianity to spread exclusionary and bigoted rhetoric (34:36).
On the back half, Dr. Whitfield explains how he’d like to see American history taught in schools (41:48), what has (and hasn’t) changed since he sent that email in 2020 (47:28), the parallels between his dreams of being an educator and his late mother’s (54:11), and why he refuses to be invisible after everything that’s happened (59:46).
To submit a question, comment, or reflection for our mailbag episode, write us at email@example.com.
- Follow Dr. James Whitfield on Instagram and Twitter.
- Hear our recommended talks with Jelani Cobb, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Resmaa Menakem, Claudia Rankine, Dr. Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Beto O’Rourke, and Gloria Steinem.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.