Penn High School’s Critical Race Theory Curriculum, Lesson 1: Microaggressions

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. — This is the first of a series of stories outlining the Critical Race Theory curriculum being taught at Penn High School. All of the curriculum was obtained by REAL News Michiana from the school district through a Freedom of Information Act Request.

Penn High School students will learn why statements like, “I’m not a racist. I have several Black friends,” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” are microaggressions, thanks to a curriculum designed to equip local students with the social and emotional tools they need to achieve success. 

All of this is part of the Critical Race Theory push happening in school districts across the country. The theory essentially starts with the conclusion that all white people are inherently racist and oppressors. People of color are victims and the oppressed. The theory attempts to fight racism with racism. It is essentially a racial take on communist “critical theory,” attempting to indoctrinate communist ideals into our children by calling them racist if they disagree with the teachings.

While “microaggression” is not a household term everywhere, students will soon become experts with such terminology. Merriam Webster defines a microaggression as: a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority). 


(Whether using a traditional dictionary source such as Merriam Webster to define “microaggression” is a microaggression in itself, is of course a possibility. This is why education on the subject is so necessary.) 


In an effort to acquaint all Penn High School parents with the contents of this material, details of the slide presentation on microaggressions follows below: 

Theme: Second-class citizen. Occurs when a White person is given preferential treatment as a consumer over a person of color.

Microaggression: 

  • Person of color mistaken for a service worker.
  • Having a taxi cab pass a person of color and pick up a White passenger.
  • Being ignored at a store counter as attention is given to the White customer behind you.
  • “You people…”

Message: 

  • People of color are servants to Whites. They couldn’t possibly occupy high-status positions. 
  • You are likely to cause trouble and/or travel to a dangerous neighborhood.
  • Whites are more valued customers than people of color.
  • You don’t belong. You are a lesser being. 

Theme: Environmental microaggressions. Macro-level microaggressions, which are more apparent on systemic and environmental levels.
Microaggression: 

  • A college or university with buildings that are all names after White heterosexual upper class males.
  • Television shows and movies that feature predominantly White people, without representation of people of color.
  • Overcrowding of public schools in communities of color.
  • Overabundance of liquor stores in communities of color.

Message:

  • You don’t belong/You won’t succeed here. There is only so far you can go.
  • You are an outsider/You don’t exist.
  • People of color don’t/shouldn’t value education.
  • People of color are deviant.

Theme: Criminality — assumption of criminal status. A person of color is presumed to be dangerous, criminal, or deviant on the basis of their race.
Microaggression:

  • A White man or woman clutching their purse or checking their wallet as a Black or Latino approaches or passes. 
  • A store owner following a customer of color around the store.
  • A White person waits to ride the next elevator when a person of color is on it.

Message: 

  • You are a criminal.
  • You are going to steal/You are poor/You do not belong/You are dangerous.

Theme: Denial of Individual racism. A statement made when White deny their racial biases.
Microaggression: 

  • “I’m not a racist. I have several Black friends.”
  • “As a woman, I know what you go through as a racial minority.”

Message: 

  • I am immune to racism because I have friends of color.
  • Your racial oppression is no different than my gender oppression. I can’t be a racist. I am like you.

Theme: Myth of meritocracy. Statements which assert that race does not play a role in life success.
Microaggression: 

  • “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
  • “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”

Message: 

  • People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.
  • People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.

Pathologizing cultural values/communication styles. The notion that the values and communication styles of the dominant/White culture are ideal.
Microaggression: 

  • Asking a Black person: “Why do you have to be so loud/animated? Just calm down.”
  • To an Asian or Latino person: “Why are you so quiet? We want to know what you think. Be more verbal. Speak up more.”
  • Dismissing an individual who brings up race/culture in work/school setting.

Message:

  • Assimilate to dominant culture.
  • Leave your cultural baggage outside.

Students will also learn they might be using microaggressions without even realizing they’re doing it! They may be left feeling that they “can’t say anything right.” This may be due to the fact that they are “fragile” or “close-minded.” Nonetheless, they will be encouraged to “Talk about other things,” because “It’s not that hard.” Read below for more information: 


Imagine being swarmed by mosquitoes everyday of your life.

  • You may not be aware that things you’ve said are microaggressions.
  • You may think you were being nice, kind, considerate, giving a compliment
  • It’s not for the aggressor to decide if a comment is a microaggression (not about intention, but about inappropriate message sent)

After learning about microaggressions…

  • People sometimes feel like they “can’t say anything right”
  • That feeling that some may have when they feel they “can’t say anything right” could be due to the microaggressor being “fragile” or even close-minded
  • Important to be aware. Then, make a change. Stop using microaggressions, it’s not that hard. This is a call to action to make a positive difference.
  • Talk about other things.

The microaggression slides are part of the Social-Emotional Lesson plan for Penn High School. They are included in a section called, “Conflict Resolution: Dealing with and Eliminating Microaggressions.”

According to the school districtPenn-Harris-Madison has created Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum based on Indiana Department of Education SEL standards/learning competencies in order to intentionally teach students vital SEL competencies to equip them for success… SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.


More than 3,700 students are enrolled at Penn High School.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I have put in FOIAs to Penn regarding Crtiical Race Theory. If you are interested please contact me I would be happy to send the requests to you. I am still waiting for them all to answered.

  2. I might have to take my kids out of this school!This is teaching Racism no business in schools how about bring back cursive writing instead of this garbage!

  3. Manufacturing racism isn’t gonna create equality in this country. Furthering your political agendas to keep the masses in line will. Which is quicker? A cheetah or how quickly the democrat party abandons their minority voters once they are elected.

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