Website Slams TEAM Westport Diversity Essay Contest

TEAM Westport announced its 9th annual Teen Diversity Essay topic.

“Westport Parents 06880” are not pleased.

The prompt — “describe what you would like to explain to people in your community who avoid or struggle with talking about race, or acknowledging systemic racism, or who apply a ‘color blind’ approach to issues” — prompted the anonymous website formed out of “concerns about the increasing focus on assertions of racism in our community,” and which fights “political activism and moralizing intrusions in the classroom” to issue a lengthy statement opposing the contest.

It begins: “The contest is explicitly targeting ‘students attending high school in Westport,’ which of course means Staples High School, one of three high schools in Westport alongside the two much smaller private schools.” (In fact, previous essay winners have come from Choate and Hopkins, as well as Greens Farms Academy.)

The statement continues:

The essay prompt is unsurprising given this organization’s ongoing efforts to impose its neoracist ideology (to borrow a term used by the African-American Columbia linguistics professor John McWhorter) on nearly every part of our town.

This year’s topic — essentially asking our children to deconstruct a “colorblind” approach to race — only represents an escalation of its campaign to discredit basic Constitutional principles that have defined and united Americans from our founding. What TEAM is doing here is not only morally wrong, it is a blatant violation of adopted Westport Board of Education policy on essay contests which prohibits contests “that tend to promote or advertise a product or an ideology.” We call upon Town leaders and the Board of Education in particular to take immediate action.

Formed with the seemingly benign mission of “achieving and celebrating ‘a more welcoming, multicultural community’,” TEAM now fluidly operates as a sort of amorphous auxiliary unit within Westport municipal government. TEAM is formally housed within the Selectman’s office but is composed of numerous elected officials, ordinary townsfolk and even residents of Weston. For reasons one can only speculate upon, TEAM seems to have carte blanche to intervene in our schools and numerous other areas of Town government. TEAM’s unelected leadership appears to be accountable to no one, while playing a role in nearly every facet of Westport civic life, from our schools to the library to the police force to the art work that appears in Town Hall.

Screenshot of the “Westport Parents 06880” home page.

The parents in the group “do not object in the least to TEAM’s mission of celebrating diversity or the existence of a properly regulated body that would pursue such a straightforward mission,” they say.

They do object, however, to

how TEAM’s philosophy has evolved into a sort of militant “wokeness,” aggressively pushing a single (and in our view toxic) narrative around racial issues. This ideology has manifested itself through the concept of ‘equity’ that has been pushed across Town government. As we await the Superintendent’s recommendations following the equity study conducted by the NYU Metro Center, equity is perhaps weeks away from becoming the official dogma of our public schools.

The choice to target a “colorblind” approach cuts to the heart of the ideological cliff over which TEAM seeks to push our wonderful diverse community. As anyone with a basic understanding of anti-discrimination law understands, because of our country’s dark history with segregation, we have wide-ranging prohibitions against consideration of race or skin color. The new “woke” mentality, which has clearly been embraced by TEAM, is to reinsert consideration of race or skin color into everyday life, as a form of “good” segregation.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

After quoting Ibram X. Kendi — the National Book Award for Nonfiction who was the 2018 Martin Luther King Day keynote speaker here, and has since worked on anti-racism training in Westport — the website says:

TEAM’s new mission appears to be a revival of racial discrimination in Westport. Presumably, it will fall upon the unelected leadership of TEAM to decide how and when such racial discrimination takes place to achieve the antiracist equitable outcomes they desire.

Westport as a community, and its elected leadership in particular, must stand against this paradigm shift in racial understanding which so plainly disrespects the principle of equality embedded in our Constitution and so many of our laws.

The statement concludes:

When they were inaugurated, every single one of Westport’s elected officials swore an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. We ask them all to live up to that oath and denounce TEAM’s relentless efforts to undermine the principle of racial equality and equal treatment under the law. We ask the Board of Education in particular to enforce its own policies and take immediate action to sever any link between Staples High School and the new TEAM essay contest.

We urge parents of high school students in Westport to discourage their children from participating in this odious attempt to use financial incentives to impress a severely defective ideology upon them.

NOTE: It is an “06880” rule that all commenters must use full, real names. Last night, I removed several comments from a previous story about TEAM Westport. The comments — all condemning the committee and its essay contest — were posted using fake names and false email addresses. If you have an opinion, we’d love to hear it. But we must know who stands behind it. Thank you for abiding by “06880” rules.

94 responses to “Website Slams TEAM Westport Diversity Essay Contest

  1. Hmmmmm; I graduated from high school; went on to college; even got an MA in history, but I”m damned if I understand what the UNIDENTIFIED “anti TEAM” folks are saying. It may, in fact be, that TEAM s a silly group on a silly mission. But RACIST? I think the anti’s are the racists, hiding in plain sight.

    • There’s another “team,” and it’s called “TEAM COWARD.” Those on this team are too cowardly to attach their names to comments!

      • Dan, Thank you for covering this important topic. I would like to applaud TEAM Westport for their work. I would like to thank Jen Tooker and her predecessors for encouraging and supporting TEAM Westport. When I have joined meetings, I have witnessed the most constructive and collaborative and respectful discussions between TEAM Westport and the First Selectman and the Chief of Police and the Superintendent. It is a model for how a town should work well together across political parties, experience and roles. TEAM Westport does not deserve to be attacked by nameless & faceless people. What I love about America is that we can and should have these debates and we will always have differences of opinion on how we solve a problem or whether a problem exists in the first place. But attacking TEAM Westport is not the answer. Westport Parents 06880 should sponsor their own essay contest. Encourage young people to understand the other point of view. Your essay contest could be “What would you do to make color-blind policies work?” If that is the policy you would like to advance. Stop attacking. Inspire with constructive ideas.

        • On one hand you highlight that what is great about our country is that we can have differences of opinion and yet you then argue that people who have differences of opinion should “stop attacking.” How convenient it is to cast aside such differing opinions by labeling them as attacks. It’s dismissive of the conversation you purport to stand for. TEAM would be great if it was inclusive but it is not. TEAM is close-minded and only allows one viewpoint. It is not representative or open to all views. If you really cared about having a conversation like you say you do, you would be very concerned that your fellow Westporters feel they cannot come forward. All you care about is supporting an echo chamber like TEAM. The fact is you (and TEAM for that matter) do not respect or care to listen to any other viewpoint unless it perfectly aligns with yours.

          • Hi Bea! Thank you for your comment. Would you like to join me at a TEAM Westport meeting? They are open to everyone. I am unable to attend many of the meetings, but when I have, they have opened the meeting for anyone to speak or ask questions. I am pretty sure they would make sure your ideas are heard. I am sorry that you did not like my use of the word “attack”. I respect that there are different opinions on how to be more inclusive and how to wrestle with racism. The comments today show how charged this issue is. How can we work together to reduce the negativity and improve the discourse?

            • I appreciate your response. I actually already joined in on a TEAM meeting and it was most unpleasant. These adults actually expressed that they felt they “were not in a safe space” simply because others were expressing differing opinions. It was a most unwelcome body to listen to any conservative ideas. TEAM might as well be part of the democrat party because everyone else is clearly not welcomed. That’s not right.

              • Bea, then let’s work together to make you feel more included. I am sorry I missed the meeting you attended. It has not been my experience. I have observed people sharing their own personal experiences and frustration. That is to be expected in any discourse on such a charged topic. Racism is personal for those who experience it or observe it or frustrated that it still exists. I do not see the topic of inclusion or racism as a partisan topic. There are people, on both sides of the political spectrum who want a more inclusive and less racist society and there are people on both sides trying to make the topic more political and divisive. Westport has the opportunity to lead by example. We need ideas from all of our community on how to have a more constructive discussion. The more negative discussion, the more people stay on the sidelines. I am very impressed by how the amazing public officials and volunteers (including TEAM Westport) contribute to making Westport a very special place. Let’s bring the same approach to being open to other ideas and to being more inclusive.

                • Joan, I have attended quite a few TEAM meetings. The moderator does an excellent job and is respectful. However, I was told that other participants did not feel comfortable talking when I was there and that it would be preferable if the moderator and one other member would have lunch with me to take. Of course, nothing came of that. In addition, I was appointed by Staples to its DEI committee, but after talking with me, the co-chairs asked to have me removed because “she thinks differently that we do.”

                  • Hi Anne! How are you doing? This topic is clearly very important to you. I have heard you speak at TEAM and multiple times at the BOE meetings. As you might appreciate, I do not have any knowledge of your effort to have lunch with members of TEAM. I hope you make that happen. Did you follow up with them? What I do know is how helpful and active you were volunteering to help with the PTA Reflections essay contest the year I volunteered too. You were great a lining up the judges. You would be perfect to help sponsor and organize an essay contest to engage students in generating inspirational ideas that are more in line with your views. You clearly would like to see the town tackle racism and inclusion using different strategies and tactics. I hope you and others do not take my failure to answer further comments directed at me, but I have a houseful of kids to feed and need to get on with my day. This is my last post. Happy to have coffee in the coming weeks.

      • So not true. Such a hateful comment, it’s not worth you all canceling them, their jobs, screaming at them, singling them out. If anything comes of this is should be compete transparency into what is going on by our elected officials.

        • TEAM is not screaming at people, or getting them fired from their jobs. They are simply asking students to ponder a question. Certainly a student can write an opposing view that provides evidence that color-blindness is in fact anti-racist. It is not a position I personally take, but TEAM isn’t asking me. They are only asking students who would like to respond.

          I have never seen any member of TEAM be disrespectful to anyone. I think Anne and I can even agree on that. In fact, I believe if we put aside all the rhetoric we might find we agree on a lot more than (or is it then? My grammar in these heated moments can be terrible) we disagree.

    • Dan, careful with your spellcheck. I see you used a ” instead of a ‘. The lady Jen below thinks people dumb enough to make mistakes could benefit from going back to high school.

  2. charles taylor

    I’m not surprised the author faked their identity, that’s what racist do. Hide behind someone or something like false id. Sad but here we are in 2022! Still not developed enough to stand up and represent one’s views honestly!

    • Sad in 2022 that people can’t take the risk of standing up and asking questions without being bashed as “racist in hiding”. All the name calling and negativity in these comments is exactly why whomever is writing this is anonymous.

    • Charles, your comment about how you see anyone who has a view different from yours as being “racist,” is exactly the reason for many people’s anonymity. I for one am not anonymous and was sanctioned by TEAM and the BOS as having views that should not be permitted to be openly expressed. See the motion # 2 at the 10.13.21 BOS meeting that TEAM prepared for the BOS to pass. It was referring to a public comment that I had made at the BOE meeting that was subsequently interpreted to mean something other than what I had said. Many people who support wp06880 views are afraid to speak up exactly for that reason. Had I been employed, it is likely that I would have lost my job.

  3. what this group is saying is absolutely right and long overdue. just wish they would let us know who they are. perhaps they are reluctant to publicly identify themselves due to fears of being harassed or “cancelled” in the current environment of intolerance. TEAM Westport is becoming a destructive and divisive influence and it is time that the Town considered defunding them if they do not take a more diverse and tolerant view of the issues they were formed to address.

    • Adam, perhaps? Just read this thread, it’s exactly why. If you dare have an opposing view against these Dan Woog readers just look what they say in the comments. Could you imagine being out to dinner or walking around downtown and these people know who you are? I’m not saying I have an opinion on TEAM or this 06880 website and I’m prepared for the ridicule of trying to explain why they remain anonymous. These comments seem to think they are being rational and welcoming to dialogue by bashing them publicly. Cowards!? Racists! What? Do you all not watch the news and see how divisive these topics are….but somehow your comments are productive?

      • So it is okay to say things like “We urge parents of high school students in Westport to discourage their children from participating in this odious attempt to use financial incentives to impress a severely defective ideology upon them,” but not okay to say who is saying this?

        • Yes Dan. Urge, not force. Choice Dan, choice. Informing people to research and decide for themselves.

      • it is unfortunate, but we have reached the point of groupthink in many communities and institutions where expressions of dissenting opinions on hot button issues are likely to be greeted with abuse and “cancellation.” I can understand why parents of Westport school children would not want to publicly express concerns about the course that TEAM Wasteport has taken.

        • People who constantly use the term “cancel” tell me nothing more or less than they prefer reactionary tropes to reasoned thoughts. Don’t forget “erase history,” too.

          Bet you had no problems with the attempts to “cancel” Colin Kaepernick.

  4. Well, as a parent in 06880 (but not a parent who has anything to do with the website you quote from above), my initial reaction is the parent author (if it IS a parent who wrote the above) could certainly benefit from sitting in on one of our local high schools’ language arts classes. In particular, a grammar and punctuation lesson might be helpful.

    As for the content, I’ve decided to stop putting much emotional energy into understanding these type of pseudo-intellectual word salads. Ah well, I’m sure the essay submissions that TEAM Westport receives from our local (and beyond) high schoolers will be much more comprehensible. I look forward to reading each and every winning essay with my own Westport kids. Thanks, Westport Parents 06880, for putting this on my family’s radar!

    • Another hateful comment, making fun of someone’s intellect, ability to spellcheck whatever. Amazing the unproductive hate in Westport. I hope I spelled all this correctly.

      • Jen, another thought is you could easily provide an edited version of the article pointing out all their grammatical mistakes. I’m sure they would read it and Dan would be happy to post. It seems pretty tightly written to me (I wouldn’t consider myself smart enough to judge or critique) but a chance to embarrass the anonymous people would potentially seem productive to you?

    • Jen-
      What a rude, needless, unkind, and elitest comment to attempt to argue that the grammar was wrong in a failed effort to discredit the actual content of the article. Please point out the grammatical mistakes that are so offensive. I don’t see any. I await your response.

      • Adam Schwartz

        Umm, Tony, you reply to almost everyone’s comments within seconds. We’re still waiting for Bea Smith’s request for you to point out the grammatical mistakes that are so offensive……….

  5. Tabitha Nguyen

    It’s funny the author of the featured post makes multiple references to constitutional rights. Many of the USA’s constitutional fathers recognized the irony and injustice of the bold, new system built on “unalienable rights” at the outset. Freed slaves and women (yes, these people actually existed in the 1770s) were not given a voice at the table, and as such, denied participating in developing a system that represented their interests. This is the framework of our country. It’s not perfect, but it has good bones.
    I hope we can all agree that America is a great country, in fact, the greatest in modern history, for all that we have accomplished in our short time. But where we begin to splinter is looking at the future. Do we stay a petulant, headstrong tween forever, or mature into an adult that cares for its family? If we want to grow, it will hurt, but not forever. Growing pains are given that name for a reason. It is not weak to admit wrong doing. It is not weak to apologize. In fact, it is cathartic AND builds strength and trust from the bottom up, the best of foundations.
    I am not that surprised to see a flurry and even a storm of defensiveness arising from some of my fellow privileged community across the nation. But to those in Westport, please take advantage of a rare opportunity – I ask they read the essays submitted from the TEAM Westport contests and not dismiss them outright. This year’s theme is quite evocative and invites a world of disparate experiences. The words of these brave teens might make you feel uncomfortable, they may even be a bit misguided as they are young and still have much to learn. But whether we agree with them or not, we owe them our attention, because their points of view matter, and a person is never too old to learn.

  6. Dan, I’m surprised you are giving a website, registered by proxy for anonymity, “air time” on your well-read and most respected blog. I’ve always admired you don’t even permit folks to comment without first providing their name. How come you are promoting WP06880? Is it because you know the folks who are behind it and feel they have a legitimate voice? To me they seem like scary fear mongers and not people who are interested in having open dialogue in an effort to work together towards thoughtful solutions.

    I’d love to hear your reasoning. Do we even know if the creators are Westport parents?

    • Thanks for a great and important question, Alex. The website was forwarded to me by many people — of all political stripes — wondering if I’d seen it. It’s being circulated widely in Westport. People are talking about it. I think it’s important that everyone in town know that this is percolating — and that the folks behind it intend to put pressure on TEAM Westport and the Board of Education. (Hopefully using their real names, not anonymously.)

      I also wanted to ensure a fair and open dialogue about all the issues they raise in a forum — with real names — where people could share ideas.

      I could have said, “It’s anonymous – I won’t give it the light of day.” But it’s there, people are reading it, and I wanted to further the conversation — without anonymity.

      • PS: Though some of the content is taken from other anti-CRT websites, I believe that there are Westport people behind it. I wish they would not hide behind anonymity.

        • PPS: I asked Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport chair, for a comment yesterday. He replied this morning, saying that he’s away. But he said he’d have a comment later today.

          • Robert M Gerrity

            Dan! Get back or onto being an Investigating Journalist. Time to discomfort the Comfortable in pursuit of comforting the Discomforted. You know The Saints: Margaret Fuller (women’s prisons 1840s), Ida B. Wells (1900s racism & class), Upton Sinclair (unethical big biz). etc. Sure, as Skip Gates says, it’s complicated. But there is a straight line through it all – print the facts.

        • Dan…but after reading these comments, do you even remotely understand why? Come on, look how these people who provide their names are waiting to rip them apart b/c they have opposing views. Again, I don’t support either but it’s very clear why people in today’s world can’t voice their opinions. I mean Dan, even just a tiny bit of understanding? Can even the great Dan Woog admit he kinda gets it…at the risk of his own readers canceling him?

          • Sorry. I stand by what I write. I ask commenters to do the same. The anonymous website says “We urge parents of high school students in Westport to discourage their children from participating in this odious attempt to use financial incentives to impress a severely defective ideology upon them.” That’s a pretty strong statement itself. If you have an opinion, stand behind it.

            • You answered my question by not answering it. Even Dan Woog is afraid of getting canceled for admitting that while he doesn’t agree with the anonymity he understands it. Such a telling answer.

              • Adam Schwartz '75

                Tony, did you not take your medication this morning? Haha! Only kidding! Come on, can’t take a joke?

        • Dan, though I don’t write for the website, I agree with its positions and am grateful that there is a forum for opposing views. I am not anonymous and neither are the many people who speak out at the BOE, so please don’t keep saying that this group is anonymous. Perhaps the authors are anonymous bc they fear backlash such as the backlash that I suffered by speaking at the BOE. You should acknowledge the many people who have lost their jobs due to such backlash, the cancel culture. And for the town to specifically denounce me (by referring to me as the person who spoke at the BOE meeting) is just plain wrong. And to force Jen Tooker to vote for the motions most likely because it was just before the election and she didn’t dare not support me, was the key strategy of TEAM and its supporters. Their tactic is to call anyone who disagrees with them “racists.”

        • I, too, wondered why you allowed the anonymity of the group in question…thanks for the logical explanation. I’m so glad you published it. Also, it is rather shocking that the TEAM folks have not replied or offered a counter position…That Mr. Bailey is “away” is a bullshit excuse for silence…if he left his computer at home, he sure has his phone with him.

  7. Larry+Weisman

    The fact that these Neanderthals are anonymous tells you all you need to know abou them

    • Hey Larry, more name calling. I imagine you use the term “Neanderthal” in a negative connotation? You must be another “champion of inclusion” as long as the author agrees with your perspective. Another very productive comment.

  8. All these hateful against about anonymity are so untrue. It’s not worth the risk for any of these people to expose themselves, it’s evident by all these comments. The points made about TEAM having “cart blanche” access to intervene, unelected body, accountable to no-one, choosing which art to hang on the walls…etc. I don’t follow all this but sure seems worth exploring…and hopefully it’s not the case.

  9. Seems to me that Westport Parents 06880 should recruit high school students to write essays expressing the group’s POV and bring their views into the public arena where they can be seen and evaluated by the larger community.

    • Roy, good idea. Then we can print them on the Woog site and let all these hateful people go after the authors too (we won’t let them be anonymous). More productivity.

  10. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Westporters. Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t live without ‘em. Thank you Sir may we have another.

  11. The anonymous parents are actually beautiful people, I have met some of them. Don’t be so quick to judge, they might have a point here. Asking children what might be behind notions of a color blind society? that is a little leading, smells like propaganda. Here is my elevator pitch for the essay. Bill Maher said on HBO last week. “I subscribe to the color blind view!” You know, I think I do to. I don’t see color. I agree with Bill Maher. It is so terrible how many police officers have been murdered this week. My essay, if I was the TEAM leader, would ask the question… Why are police officers being murdered? Who is stoking the racial flames? Do social justice warriors actually want blood in the streets. And finally, is anonymous speech protected in America, and why?

    • I don’t even know what to reply to this one, he didn’t hate or bash anyone. Instead offered an eloquent suggestion and provided thoughtful questions that would allow children to write essays based upon their own beliefs. Wow, there are good people in Westport.

    • I call bulls*it on this. Of COURSE you see color. Unless you’re in the rare minority that is completely blind, because even technically colorblind people can see differing shades/depths of skin color. Are you genderblind, too? The problem has NEVER been with noticing skin color: it’s been with the values that our society has placed on differing skin hues. It’s been with the way we’ve been carefully taught to conflate class and skin color. We cannot change something we’re pretending isn’t there. And how do all of your darker-skinned friends feel about you trying to be colorblind?

      • excuse me…. are you a mind reader. At Saugatuck Nursery School they taught us all to not notice race… at all.. 50 years ago in Westport. How do you know what is in my mind? Why are you using profane language? There is a song : Free To Be You and Me. Growing up in Westport anybody could be anything, that’s just how it is here, where are you from? Russia? I can see into your mind that you don’t actually believe wht you are saying… F O

        • I grew up with Free to Be You and Me, too. Its messages of equality and respect were inspiring and inclusive. But being inclusive doesn’t mean shutting down conversations or pretending we’re all the same.

          • you are the one trying to shut down my conversation. Are you invoking the anal rape of white men? I think you have a lot to learn about the world. You try to hide that fact by pretending you are an expert.

    • Robert M Gerrity

      Todd, if you have met some of “these beautiful people,” you should discuss who they are, off-the-record, with Dan. Dan is a JOURNALIST. If he could tell us about a Stapleite’s return to the scenes of youth whilst living aboard his Mediterranean-bound yacht without ever saying his name (and even post pics), than you can share those names with him, he can reach out to them for a scene-setting interview, etc. If they choose to not accept the invitation, so be it. Their unwillingness to identify themselves publicly should undermine any credibility they might have. Tony Bazile is forthright and should be applauded for it. [Clap, clap, clap is what I can do, no emoji’s here.]

      Must say, your use of “beautiful people” strikes me as something F. Scott Fitzgerald might have written to characterize Daisy and Tom. He chose other words.

      • I don’t need to go off the record bro, I’m telling you they are beautiful Westport parents who are concerned with the propaganda being hoisted upon their children, through the Westport school system. Primarily the values of CRT, such as all white people being privileged because they are white. Its just not true. Nothing is all true about white people or black people. These are the ideas that are being objected to. If you think all white people are anything then you are the racist

        • Robert M Gerrity

          Todd, what can I say if you are falling for the CRT-undermines-American-values meme as pushed by Republican politicians on various levels. That’s another tactic to gin up their base and leaners, which worked for Youngkin in VA re margins he won in the northern counties that lead to his victory. This is about power – who has it, who doesn’t, who will be denied it.

          Do you know what CRT really stands for? CRITICAL REALITY THINKING. What I learned to do at Bedford El, Bedford Jr and at Staples (kudos to Mr. Bennett, especially re his source usage module, and Mr. Chalk).

          That means understanding that Racism by Europeans against all Others (Native-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, etc. etc. etc.) has been a core element of this country’s reality since Jamestown (1605). 1619 and 1620 are just more “tipping points” along the way.

          The range of antipathy towards all of the above, but especially Africans, has been wide and deep. Historian Winthrop B. Jordan covered that REALITY CRITICALLY in two award-winning books — White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (1968) and The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States (1974). These are two books that do not ever have to be re-written. Another is Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom. Easy to read writer and shorter than Jordan. [EM’s last book on Ben Franklin is essential on understanding how BF’s mind worked.}

          Why is Slavery before Freedom? EM’s THINKING led him to understand that freedom’s usage was always constrained by the actuality of the unfree (indentured servants as well as slaves). But the indentured could work their way to freedom, at which point “class” became and continues as a controlling issues in people’s lives. But Africans as slaves? Hurdles and hurdles and hurdles to freedom, than betrayals upon betrayals. Now, it is “color” conjoined with “class” that as expressed through, if I may quote Professor Higgins, ” ‘ohs and ‘gones that keep her in her place and not her wretched clothes and dirty face.” Not even McWhorter would deny that.

          Being “color-blind” is a laudable goal. It is where we are now with the Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, and coming along with Middle-Easterners and Asians. We need to ACT that way so it BECOMES the fact, becomes REALITY. Marcus Aurelius said (paraphrase), the way you think and act is who you become, so be careful.

          But racism still exists in the Land of the Free and the Home of Brave, and will continue to do so beyond our lives. Not addressing it NOW means that it will continue to fester below the surface, though it seems a lot of so-called educated people are now willing to ACT racially all the while using the concepts of racism to maintain their STATUS, i.e. class. Yes, I am looking at all those “beautiful people.”

          As Coach Beard said in Ted Lasso, Season 1: Grow up. Get over it. Realize that this CRT meme is just another version of LBJ’s “find others for people to look down upon, and those people will let you pick their pockets.”

          You have been had by the people behind Faux-06880. Take the blinders off your eyes and apply CRITICAL THINKING to REALITY. Educate yourself further. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

        • Jonathan Hochhauser

          It is absolutely, positively 100% true that being white in America means being in a position of privilege compared to people of color. This is a caste society–not remotely color blind. This does not mean that all white people have good lives or are lucky. It means their lives are inherently eas(ier) because of the color of their skin. “We” tried color blindness for about half a century. Turns out it mostly led to perpetuation of that caste system, not its abolition. Time to try something different.

  12. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Thank God(dess) for Bill Maher!!

  13. Celeste Champagne

    WOW! I think TEAM Westport needs to step up and reply. I am not a Westport resident, but read “06880, spend a lot of time there with friends, shopping, church, etc. As a member of the Interfaith Council have participated in events together with TEAM Westport. The commentary today is quite overwhelming. And who is Tony Bazile?

    • Who is John Gault? Just some random law abiding dude that lives in Westport and pays all his taxes, so I guess that qualifies me for a right to be annoyed with all on the negativity I see on the site. I like golf, tennis and long walks on the beach with my family (and sometimes we even bring our puppy.)

  14. christine phillips

    I’ll lend my support to Tony on this one. Based on past conversations and comments, I too would be hesitant to publicly express views that don’t support TEAM or that question the changes to the school curriculum (neither of which I know much about as my children are no longer in WPS). Much more important than feeling insulted by being called a racist/coward/Neanderthal on a local website, would be the stance a current or future employer may be compelled to take if my name became linked with that moniker. So while I won’t argue if certain individuals should or should not remain anonymous – frankly I don’t care, I’m not going to pretend I don’t understand why they do.

  15. Since 06880 is already in the website’s title, is it possible the real name for this website is WhitePeople06880? Would an admin from the website like to weigh in? Because the loudest voices I’m hearing here are the voices of butthurt, fragile white folks.

    For those of you who do actually have meaningful relationships with a person with darker skin (anyone? Bueller?), have you asked them how THEY feel about the notion of colorblindness? Do you have people with darker skin in your life in a meaningful way? If you don’t, please sit down and be quiet.

    For those who have read this far: if you went to a doctor and they told you they were “genderblind,” would that sound to you like either a possible or a good thing? WE SEE COLOR. To deny that is a full-fledged lie, unless you’re actually blind. The problem has never been with seeing skin color, it’s with the values and stereotypes we have ALL been taught to associate with skin color in this society. If you’re too scared to be willing to examine the way each of us was socialized around skin color, sometimes just by its absence, (did your parents have lots of Black friends? Do you? What do most of the people you work and live with look like? It’s pretty easy to claim colorblindness when everyone around you is THE SAME COLOR), you are operating from a place of ignorance. For goodness’ sake, just talk to someone, face to face, who has a differing skin color. Is that really so much to ask?

    • Ohhh I see… Its the white folks… that’s who you hate… all makes sense now

      are all white folk butt hurt or just the one you hate?
      ..

      • Todd your opinion clearly does not align with hers so you are “wrong”! and you are butt hurt! and you are fragile! and it’s impossible you aren’t racist. and scared. and it’s your parents fault. But at least you aren’t anonymous so they can’t make fun of you for that!

  16. Seriously, a short comments section is the 2nd worst place to discuss this fraught topic. The 1st worst is via an anonymous website with a URL (WP06880.com) that’s a knockoff of Dan’s here. I don’t think the imitation is deliberate; it just reflects tone-deafness and a lack of creativity.

    If anyone is willing to listen to sense here, this is what I suggest:

    Have an event with opposing scholars/writers representing both the mindset of the TEAM Westport folks and the people who are objecting. Have some very controlled Q&As afterword, but the main reason is to listen to the speakers, not the commenters.

    On the former side, it’s probably difficult to get a media superstar like Ibram Kendi or Robin DiAngelo, but quite likely to get someone like David Kirkland, the immediate former director of the NYU Metro Center (with which the Westport schools are contracted.)

    On the latter side, I would try to get Professor John McWhorter from Columbia. As anyone who follows him knows, McWhorter is a world renowned linguist whose politics are traditionally liberal, except that he deviates from the current liberal consensus on issues of race relations.

    If TEAM Westport and Westport Parents 06880 really want an honest dialog, they should work together to set up this forum. Otherwise, I suggest the Westport Library organize such an event without the activist groups involved.

    The Westport I grew up in was always the first community to give the leading advocates a forum to discuss the most controversial topics of the day. Today we’re reduced to online scribes parroting hand-me-down talking points.

    We can do better!

    • Not one person can suggest a reasonable idea without taking their jabs. You had me until “tone-deafness and lack of creativity”. Ooh and of course Dan’s site is better than theirs. Theirs is the first worst. His is 2nd worst.

      • Lest anyone think I was criticizing Dan’s blog, quite the opposite – I love it. What I said is that brief social media comments are not an effective way to debate a fraught issue — and worse than that, an anonymous site profoundly lacks credibility.

        In terms of hurting the feelings of those anonymous Westport Parents, anyone who “jabs” their fellow citizens with a headline like “TEAM Westport steps up its efforts to turn our children against core American ideals,” should be tough enough to take a far gentler rib from me.

    • Robert M Gerrity

      Dropping in from Greater Portland OR!

      Whole-heartedly support your recommendations, Peter. Westport has ALWAYS been “WOKE” and I speak from my K-12 memories spanning the mid-1950s to 1966, and then as a drop-in visitor to the parents through 1999. More on that below. Still writing.

      HOWEVER, you wrote: “I don’t think the imitation is deliberate; it just reflects tone-deafness and a lack of creativity.”

      Oh, Peter, no, no, NO. All the choices made that you see on the screen are DELIBERATE. The set-up is CREATIVE. It’s TONE is spot-on for the people behind this (who are clearly well-funded, well-educated, and well-settled into their cognitive assonance). The language drips with the arrogance of We Know Better so You’d Better Listen to Us.

      This is a Classic GAS-LIGHTING effort to sow seeds of doubt and dissension among people who have basic human reasonableness, even if they are not always on the same pages at the same times with each other.

      The technique is to “raise” reasonable appearing objections in pursuit of unreasonable goals. It is a tactic within a larger strategy to move unreasonable ideas (like, We The People only means Some of The People Some of the Time) into a condition of qualified acceptance among the reasonable (well, OK, maybe there’s something to it, we benighted centrists say, because the pushers are so insistent, so passionate), thereby undermining ethical relationships between individuals (c.f., Buber’s You and Me [was I and Thou]).

      Rather like a bait (you) and switch (your values) technique.

      As to where this tactical action fits into History, see Hannah Arendt on Goebbels in On Totalitarianism. (Arendt used to be a GODDESS in this town. She was on recommended reading lists for SHS. Even when I couldn’t grasp all the implications fully, I read her reports on the Eichmann trial as published in The New Yorker. Necessary re-reading this days, though using “Quisiings” to describe certain government officials under the prior administration would be less culturally loaded and more apt.)

      In a period of time where the whole reality of the Holocaust is under subtle (or not so) attack by deniers — that’s really what the MAUS book banning is all about — give these people NO INCH of ground. Their motivations are not ethical. This is a power play, pure and simple.

      Last on this, congrats to Tony Bazile for putting his name on what he believes. We do not agree, but at least we know (You and Me) we do not agree.

      • Hi Robert. I haven’t said much of anything other than this site is negative attack after negative attack. Dan Woog seems to promote it, diverts all the attention to anonymity rather than content. He’s a champion for making his unproductive commenters reveal themselves, like the should be proud to bash others (stand up for your beliefs while pounding your chest at any sacrifice). Pretends to “not know” why people don’t “reveal themselves” when they disagree. There’s no productive debate here.

    • Peter, it seems that you are unaware that a few of us, affiliated with FAIR, spent two months negotiating with the Library to have Ian Rowe, a well-respected Black educator, speak at the Library. Our group and the library had agreed to a day and time for the event. However, after two months of negotiations and lining up our speaker, the Library cancelled the event on the grounds that they could not find anyone to give the opposing view. They had asked us to include TEAM, which we did. TEAM declined and then never responded to our invitation to discuss whether there were any terms under which it would consider participating in the event. We have worked hard to organize a debate, but the attitude of the Library was that Ian Rowe was a fringe and dangerous person, necessitating police presence and that his views were so controversial that the Library would not be able to host him unless they could present opposing views. Then it did absolutely nothing to find an alternative view and allowed TEAM to back out.

      • Yes, I agree that is disturbing. Ian Rowe is part of 1776 Unites and American Enterprise Institute – AEI: moderately conservative but by no means hard right organizations. (Westport’s Dr. Scott Gottlieb is also an AEI fellow.) I suggest that whomever organizes the event engages the speakers directly so activist groups do not get in the way, and has alternate venues as nonprofit boards are notoriously skittish.

    • Peter, this is a great idea! “06880” would be happy to work with any group (Library? LWV? Anyone else?) to organize this. I am happy to help facilitate this. If anyone is interested in working on this project, please email me privately: dwoog@optonline.net. All conversations regarding this event will be off the record.

  17. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Life in the cheap seats (sure to make you lose your mind). Life in the cheap seats.

  18. Clark Thiemann

    There is racism in the world. That does not mean that there shouldn’t be debate about how we should move forward or that every white person is a huge racist. It’s just that the debate should be based on the prompt of “Overall, there’s racism in the world. How should we talk about race and move forward?”

    That being said, those that say “there’s no such thing as racism in the world” are not voicing a valid opinion. And saying it is not a valid side of the argument is not “cancelling people and stopping debate”. It’s calling out that the world actually is round and saying the world is flat isn’t something we should be debating when there are really important conversations to be had.

  19. Adam Schwartz '75

    There are cowards and there are bullies. WP06880.com fills both definitions as far as i’m concerned. They’re cowards because they insist on remaining anonymous and they’re bullies because there is no way whatsoever to communicate with them. There is no contact form or reply email on the website. That alone is a deal breaker for me. I sacrificed 4 years of my life to defend all Americans rights to free speech and everything good this country has to offer. Create a website with your view, whether I agree or not, and don’t provide a way to debate your views? No one is going to try and force feed me hiding behind a cheap website. WP06880 is a joke and insignificant!

    • Just another attacker with the name calling, not only cowards but bullies too!! They are a joke and insignificant, so much so that Dan Woog posts their articles and you waste your time commenting! And yet we demand to know who they are so we can personally yell at, attack, vandalize their homes, get them fired from their jobs, cancel them altogether (any other ideas?). I was copied on an email and saw the address parents@wp06880.com maybe try your name calling eeer I mean debate there?

      • Adam Schwartz

        Tony, you’re absolutely, 100% correct! “And yet we demand to know who they are so we can personally yell at, attack, vandalize their homes, get them fired from their jobs, cancel them altogether (any other ideas?)” You already know who I am and letting everyone know what my intentions were all along! Why do I even comment? You speak for ALL of us! You’re correct!

        I’m in a great mood today and something very significant happen with my family this week so I’m going to hold back what I really think about your comments. No way I’m going to allow someone I do not know, who makes ridiculous comments, ruin my day! Have a nice weekend! LOL

        • The first positive comment all day! Enjoy the snow!

          • Adam Schwartz

            I grew up in Westport. Where I live it’s 74 degrees and clear skies today!

            • PhooPhan wait. A friend just told me you were trying to be mean to the guy pointing out how mean everyone is (me?!). I don’t believe it. Enjoy the sun!

  20. David Kershner

    This seems like an extremely nasty conversation, and not sure how any of this (the essay contest theme, or the counterpoint) is making the community “more welcoming” for anyone – or enabling a healthier community environment for our children in the schools. I imagine the latter should be a goal of a teen essay contest that is sponsored by the Westport town government (I think TEAM is part of the Westport town government?)
    As a parent, I don’t like the way any of these adult battles are trickling down to the kids (thanks Dan Woog for the forum here though). I distrust most politicians and am not in either political party, but I assume if I express certain “party line” viewpoints I may share on some issues in certain audiences, I will be viciously attacked like that website is being attacked right here. If someone anonymous disagrees with my viewpoint(s), I don’t have an impulse to “hunt them down and confront them” – that’s their business. But my question is: if those website parents step out, what happens to their kids? It doesn’t seem hard to believe given the comments here that maybe their kids might be “fair game”. Scary times.
    In Russia or China if someone speaks out in favor of the government, all good – maybe they get a promotion or a new apartment. If someone speaks out against the government (tennis star Peng Shuai) they simply disappear. It’s not hard to believe reading through here that a few in our “welcoming community” would entirely object to that model.

  21. Lauren MacNeill

    Tony, Anne , Bea, Borrowing from one of the other commenters I am calling b***shit on your repeated narrative that anyone who speaks out with a different viewpoint is attacked/cancelled.
    That’s not what’s happening relative to the anti-CRT/SEL/TEAM attacks or here in these comments. Many of the comments to the public, to the BOE and to the superintendent are false accusations and hatefully spoken. In this example, the anonymous parents group wrote a hate filled attack on a town organization. Just some of their words printed above about TEAM – “impose neoracist ideology, escalation of its campaign to discredit basic Constitutional principles, militant “wokeness”, toxic narrative, revival of racial discrimination, undermine the principle of racial equality and equal treatment under the law” and of course the” odious attempt to use financial incentives to impress a severely defective ideology” People are reacting to what is being said, how it is said, what and who you are accusing. You and others are not being attacked or cancelled because you have “different” viewpoints. That’s disingenuous. You can’t have it both ways.

  22. Bill Strittmatter

    Regarding anonymity, it should be no surprise that folks that hold a point of view not shared by the majority chose not to expose themselves or their families to abuse of various sorts. It’s unfortunate that discourse, political or otherwise, has deteriorated these days such that folks can’t express an opinion without being demonized or subjected to ad-hominem attacks. Seriously, suggesting someone with a different view is sub-human? Strikes me that people ought to be able to reasonably disagree and have civil discussions, however it seems these days that any disagreement is often deemed to be unreasonable by definition.

    The majority, of whatever stripe, seems to be the driver. Our Florida community skews midwest conservative and anyone with a liberal viewpoint (and by that I mean even traditionally liberal) generally remains silent lest they be disinvited from various social activities and ostracized from the community. None of the name calling I’ve seen in some of the comments here but, still, differing views seem to be punished, particularly on topics where the answer is deemed OBVIOUS and UNDEBATABLE.

    Of course, it’s obvious to pretty much everyone in the northeast that Floridians are, for the most part, three-toothed, redneck, racist Neanderthals who are obviously wrongheaded and should be shunned so who cares what they think or why they think it. Just like it is obvious to those ex-midwestern, now Floridian rat bastards that northeasterners are a bunch of elitist, pedophile tools that like to tell others how to live their lives while ensconced on their estates with the only people of color they actually interact with being the folks that take care of their lawns or clean their houses, so screw them. Devolving to caricatures is not healthy.

    Shifting topics a bit, what surprises me is how folks in Westport (which otherwise seems to be “woke”) have allowed restrictive zoning to remain the rule in town. Heck, exclusionary zoning is one of the poster children for “systemic racism” if you follow the literature. At a minimum, it was and is overtly classist – we are happy to let anyone live here but too bad things are set up such that poor people can’t afford to and, oh, too bad people of color are disproportionally represented among the poor in Fairfield County.

    Can’t change the past but if one is truly concerned about such things, perpetuating it does nothing to help on the equity front or to help dismantle systemic racism. Maybe TEAM Westport could focus its essays on debating concrete issues like zoning that might make a practical difference.

    • The reason is, Bill, that the don’t like poor people in Westport, nothing to do with race.

  23. anonymous????
    Any idea how big this organization is?

    Is there an acknowledged racist private school they can send their children to and by pass public education?

    ( kinda interesting as the very strong – maybe #1 reason people move to Westport is the excellent school system.)

  24. Stephen Axthelm

    Isaac Asimov: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

  25. Folks, let us remember no student has to take part in this contest. Anyone opposed to it can sit it out. TEAM’s contest does not have anything to do with the curriculum at Staples. It is an invitation.

    People seem to be collapsing into hysteria here. Does anyone feel their child is harmed by this contest? As for what TEAM does or does not do in town, there seems to be quite a bit of misinformation and assumption. I encourage folks to join a meeting. I will also join Joan here and say I am up for coffee or cocktails. We don’t need to name call, or comment on people’s intellect.

    • Obviously Abby, MANY people feel their children are being harmed by the contest, by TEAM goals in general and by the oft miss represented CRT stuff.
      Surely, they are wrong, but the comments must be fueled by fear of just that.

  26. Team Westport sponsored an essay contest. It is not sponsored by the school system. Teens have a choice whether or not to participate. Parents can encourage or discourage participation.
    I suspect this has increased the traffic to this org’s website. I suspect it was meant for just that.

  27. If the members/supporters of the so-called “Westport Parents 06880” group are concerned about losing their anonymity if they attend a TEAM Westport meeting, isn’t the easy solution that they attend wearing hoods and robes?

  28. Dan, this is a plea to stop giving this antiCRT group the coverage they keep seeking. They are a self-stroking, weak, cowardly group of sad individuals who don’t know how to function in today’s world, and who are hurting our kids and our growing community. We’ve heard enough from them and their culling of quotes to try to seem science-based or intellectual when we all know they are old-style racists.
    The story is: the kids, and their words. They deserve our undistracted praise for bravely sharing their voices about their own experiences – and thank you to TEAM Westport for providing the platform for these voices to be heard. We have NOT heard enough from these them! They are our teachers… and most of us are excited and willing to learn from them. They are the future.