THE JOURNALISM OF RACE: What's happening in Edina's schools?


On The View, no one asked: It's one great thing about membership in our floundering liberal tribe. Especially when it comes to matters of race, you always get to be right! 

Consider what happened when Michele Tafoya mentioned something she doesn't like about her children's schools.

Tafoya did this for the first time back in November, appearing on The View. Last Wednesday night, she did so again, this time on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

She didn't mention critical race theory during either appearance. She didn't say anything about the best way to teach our American history in our American schools.

In each case, she spoke to a different type of concern. Within our nation's discussion-free culture, it doesn't much matter what she said. But just for the sake of maintaining tradition, let's try to establish the record.

When Tafoya appeared with Carlson last week, he started by playing some (lightly edited) videotape from her appearance on The View. Below, you see the fuller chunk of what she said on The View about her children's schools 

TAFOYA (11/2/22): My kids in school—there is a big, big focus on the color of your skin.

INTERJECTION: How old are your children?

TAFOYA: My children are now 16 and 13—

INTERJECTION: In what way?

TAFOYA: It's been going on since they were in lower school, all right? And it is that there are affinity groups on campus for each—

My son's first best friend was a little African-American boy. They were inseparable. Get to a certain age, they start having what's called an "affinity group," which means you go for lunch and pizza with people who look like you. Suddenly, my son wasn't hanging out with him any more.

His next best friend was a little Korean boy. Years, inseparable. He started going to his affinity groups. 

Why are we even teaching that the color of the skin matters? Because to me, what matters is your character and your values.

At this point, Whoopi Goldberg jumped in, and a discussion of a different topic ensued.

The discussion never returned to what Tafoya seemed to have said. Just for the record, this is what she seems to have said about her children's schools:

She seems to have said that her children attend schools in which kids are sorted into "affinity groups" based on ethnicity and race. She seems to have said that kids are directed to go, for lunch and for pizza, with other kids of their own ethnicity and race.

Rather plainly, she seemed to think that this wasn't a good idea. But that's where Tafoya's presentation came to an abrupt halt. After Goldberg responded, a different discussion broke out.

We'll admit that we were curious about what Tafoya had said. We wondered where her children go to school. We wondered about the actual policies to which she was referring.

No one on the set of The View seemed to have any such questions or curiosities. But just for the sake of creating a record, we'll show you some of what we've learned about this situation from a bit of googling.

By all accounts, Lafoya and her husband live in Edina, Minnesota, a high-income suburb of Minneapolis with a population of roughly 54,000. As of last July, Edina's racial / ethnic demographic breakdown looked like this:

Population of Edina, Minnesota
White: 84.2%
Black: 2.6%
Hispanic: 2.6%
Asian-American: 7.4%

So go Edina's demographics at this point in time. Income levels are rather high. The poverty rate is low.

We've found no record of whether Tafoya's kids attend public or private schools. That said, the leading authority on the Edina Public Schools offers this statement as part of its overview of the highly-regarded school system:

"Since the late 2010s, the district has increasingly gained attention for its social justice curriculum."

There seems to be little doubt that the Edina schools have been engaged in some such effort. In October 2017, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a pair of point / counterpoint essays about the system's focus on issues of racial justice. In her critical essay about the effort, Katherine Kersten wrote this:

KERSTEN (10/9/17): District leaders enshrined [a] new mission in EPS’s “All for All” strategic plan, adopted in 2013. The plan mandates that, going forward, the EPS must view “all teaching and learning experiences” through the “lens of racial equity.”


The “All for All” plan mandates sweeping change to how education is delivered in Edina. For example, it dictates that, from now on, the district will hire “racially conscious teachers and administrators.” It also declares that students must “acquire an awareness of their own cultural identity and value racial, cultural and ethnic diversities.”

In education-speak, this means that Edina children will now be instructed that their personal, cultural “identity” is irrevocably tied to their skin color. This directly rejects the colorblind vision that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. pioneered, and that the vast majority of Americans share.

Those are Kersten's views of the "All for All" program. In a counterpoint essay, Professor Annie Mogush Mason voiced a favorable view of Edina's approach, but there doesn't seem to be any doubt that the Edina Public Schools adopted some such new set of procedures during the last decade.

On that basis, we'll guess that Tafoya's kids probably attend the Edina Public Schools. For the record, the district's web site says that its student population is "becoming more diverse," and is now "28.3% students of color."

We'll guess that Tafoya's kids attend the Edina Public Schools. That said, no one asked any such question when Tafoya appeared on The View. 

The program's stars showed zero interest in exploring what Tafoya had said. Instead, they launched an exceptionally dull exposition of various obvious ideas which were cluttering up their heads.

Through the magic of videotape, you can watch the two segments of The View in which this non-discussion occurred. If you choose to do so, you'll be watching a remarkable imitation of life—a virtual Platonic ideal of an imitation of discourse.

Tafoya never said a word about the way American history should be taught. We were intrigued by what she had been briefly permitted to say, but the stars of The View were not.

They staged a remarkable imitation of life, in which they pretended to conduct a public discussion. Is it possible that such blinkered and tribalized pseudo-discussions put our political future in peril?

According to several essays in today's Washington Post, there's every chance that they do! But so what? Along the way, we liberals will grant ourselves the greatest gift of all—we'll grant ourselves the gift of knowing that we're always completely right in our tiny handful of basic ideas, no matter what may have been said.

In the next day or two, we'll offer more about the way Tafoya's remarks have been covered. We'll offer more about the way her remarks were received on The View.

For ourselves, we'd like to know more, for good or for ill, about those affinity groups.  Within our vastly self-assured tribe, some others may prefer to sound off.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our deeply self-impressed tribe is just extremely limited. Our basic skills are very few; our sense of certainty is strong.

Increasingly, we're inclined to focus on "the journalism of race." But oh, what kind of journalism is this, which goes from bad to worse?

Could our arrogance and our incompetence possibly lead to future disasters? In the wake of that vote in San Francisco, why yes—of course they could!

Tomorrow: Who is Michele Tafoya? Also, who are Tafoya's kids?


  1. Oh dear. Do you actually watch this 'The View' thing, dear Bob? You do, don't you? Are you some sort of insane?

    Okay, at this point we will be charitable, and assume that you don't. That you saw that video while watching Tucker Carlson Tonight. Good for you, then.

    But if it turns out that you actually watch The View, it'll make us extremely sad. Sad and disappointed.

  2. As a teen, I attended one of the MLK rallies in DC, although not the most famous one. MLK famously said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    Yet, schools and other institutions are teaching compelling the opposite -- that race matters a lot. These institutions imagine that they're fighting racism. They're not. When you're shitting on the head of MLK's ideals, you are the racist.

    1. We can't judge the Right by the content of their character, without them whining that "it isn't fair".

    2. "Yet, schools and other institutions are teaching compelling the opposite -- that race matters a lot."

      "and other institutions" = the justice system, Right-wing legislatures passing voting bills, store managers, etc.

    3. Did you know the only words spoken by MLK that right wing racists know is the one sentence quoted by David Gump above and they completely misrepresent the context and the meaning? It's a fact.

      Get back to me David when you stop fucking with their right to vote.

    4. 2:27,
      They like that one MLK sentence, right up until you judge them by the content of their character. Then the whining begins anew.

    5. "Yet, schools and other institutions are teaching compelling the opposite -- that race matters a lot. "

      Schools are not teaching this. This isn't what the Edina curriculum is about either. Read the counterpoint essay to the one Somerby has quoted to see what they wish to teach. Professor Annie Mogush begins by saying: "...Katherine Kersten’s commentary rests on untenable ground throughout..." She then goes on to explain why education and civil rights cannot be color-blind and accomplish their goals.

      If Somerby were not so dishonest, he might have seriously addressed what exactly is happening in the Edina schools, instead of accepting whole cloth the characterization of conservatives.

      And notice how Somerby goes from approving of Brooks when he says that we must seek truth and make evidence based judgments, to uncritically responding on the basis of rumors and mischaracterizations based on nothing more than Republican crazy.

      How crazy are Republicans these days? Today MTG said that Hillary's main source of funding for her campaign came from Ukraine (never mind that this is illegal).

    6. MTG is not crazy. She knows she can lie with impunity, especially about Hillary. Special Clinton Rules, you can say any damn thing you want to about her to her radical base. MTG is well on her way to becoming leader of that pack of vandals called the republican party.

    7. Yeah but she is pretty hot. That, you have to admit.

    8. Hillary on the other hand is not looking so hot these days. I'm glad she's not running again. People don't like their leaders to look like something you would find in the reptile house at the zoo.

  3. I think what this boils down to is to ask to what degree did the introduction of these affinity groups impede or discourage the students from having social interactions and friendships with students of other races.

    1. We agree with dear Bob: we'd like to know more about those "affinity groups".

      If they are introduced, or in any way facilitated, by liberal-hitlerian school bureaucrats -- public school bureaucrats -- those bureaucrats need to be fired on the spot.

    2. Tafoya doesn't even know whether such affinity groups exist, and it is NOT what Kersten was discussing at all.

  4. Journalism? The View?

    Perhaps there is more to be learned elsewhere about this particular matter from people who are a bit more knowledgeable than the hosts of The View.

    But that doesn’t stop Somerby from complaining about those hosts, and then saying that “our tribe” is “extremely limited”, as if liberals must now answer for and be measured by the hosts of The View.


    1. I once miffed my daughter by saying that The View was a parody show designed to mock women.

    2. I told my brother financial "news" networks were mocking capitalism.

  5. If Asian parents in SF can get so angry as to boot all the school board members they could boot (the others were too new to be eligible for recall), then NYC schools should beware of their plans for what they consider to be their Asian brainiac problem.

  6. Kersten is an employee of the Center of the American Experiment. It is described as follows by Wikipedia:

    "The Center of the American Experiment is a Minnesota-based think tank that advocates for conservative and free-market principles."

    Its president is John Hindraker, a familiar name in conservative circles.

    Somerby believes what Tafoya says about children being forced into affinity groups because Kersten, a conservative think tank author says the Edina schools are using jackboot methods.

    Kersten says: "In education-speak, this means that Edina children will now be instructed that their personal, cultural “identity” is irrevocably tied to their skin color." Her rough translation of education-speak doesn't quote or cite any policy or practice that does this, but she attributes it to the schools anyway, and Somerby takes this as evidence that kids are being affinity-grouped.

    Tafoya cites only the evidence that her kids have changed their friendships. But her kids are 13 and 16. It is common for kids to change who they hang around with during the transitions from elementary school to middle school and again in high school. These shake-ups are often painful or bewildering, but kids change their interests and find others to hang out with as they get older. It is so routine that it is the topic of many books aimed at children and young teens.

    Tafoya apparently hasn't talked to her kids about it -- she doesn't tell us that they have complained. She wasn't there at school and cannot say how kids were supposedly forced into different groups. She doesn't even tell us who her kids new friends are.

    The description of the actual programs in Edina sound like they are aiming for respect for diversity and education that talks about culture and history of all racial groups. It doesn't say anything that sounds like shoving people into mandatory groups to me, and I speak "education speak" myself.

    This is a bogus, cooked-up complaint and Somerby cannot tell when he is being hoodwinked by the right-wing into believing that kids are being taught that only skin color matters. Who in their right mind would teach that and why would anyone think that is what is meant by social justice? And what does Soemrby think happens with intersectionality? Do the gay kids hang with the gay kids even if they are black? Do the wealthy kids all hang together? Well, actually, when you let students choose, they choose their friends by affinity and some do prefer to hang out with friends who are similar to themselves. Is that against the law? The issue arises only if the school forces kids into such friendships, but no one has presented any evidence whatsoever that this has happened anywhere, much less in Edina.

  7. "We'll guess that Tafoya's kids attend the Edina Public Schools."

    If Tafoya is earning big bucks at ESPN, it is highly unlikely her kids attend public school. Shouldn't Somerby find this out, before he starts maligning the Edina schools by attributing a ridiculous idea to it, such as that it is forcing kids into affinity groups?


    Beverly Tatum wrote an interesting book about why black kids prefer to sit together, when given the choice. She explores what it is like to be a member of a minority group that constitutes 2.6% of the school population. But note that this is self-segregation, not forced affinity.

    It seems natural that minority kids will come to recognize the social significance of their skin color as they grow older. At that point, they may want to spend time with kids who are having similar experiences. Extending this widely observed phenomenon to forced grouping is outrageous.

    I am assuming that Tafoya is foolish and not venal, but the same charity does not extend to the women writing for the conservative think tank, whose purpose is to attack cultural competence in Edina's school district, for political purposes, in furtherance of the culture wars that conservatives are engaged in.

    Somerby should know better!

    1. Why do all the jocks sit together in the school cafeteria? Why do all the band nerds sit together? Why are the chess players grouped in a classroom during lunchtime, playing chess?

      How would anyone decide what a child's single most important affinity should be? Does anyone seriously think that any school (aside from one enacting apartheid) is grouping kids by their skin color for any school-mandated activity?

      Why is it that we can recognize Republican crazy when it involves Hillary Clinton's campaign being financed by Ukraine, but not when it involves policies that no school would do (now that we are past Jim Crow in our society)? This is more manufactured outrage, with Somerby joining in. What is in it for him?

    2. Blacks just like to be with blacks and whites with whites. People like to be with their own people. It doesn't mean members of each respective group don't love all people or are racists.

    3. The key difference is whether being with similar people is self-chosen or enforced by law, as occurred under Jim Crow and segregation, and more recently, redlining.

    4. It also depends on whether someone who is black gets beaten up or bullied when they try to join white kids or whether they truly prefer to have black friends.

      In adulthood, people get to spend time with whoever they want. I think kids should have the same privilege outside of class, no matter who they choose as their friends, same, different or a mix of both. Part of how we define our own identities is by who we choose as our friends and what kind of activities we pursue voluntarily. Of course this changes throughout the lifespan. Who would expect a child to have the same friends from early years to teen years? Hardly anyone does that, except perhaps those who live in rural areas where there are few choices.

  9. Braindead discourse. How can we judge institutions that she doesn't name?