Illinois school district pays anti-racism speaker $10,500 for 1-hour talk: report

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Newly released documents show that an Illinois school district agreed to pay an anti-racism speaker $10,500 for an hour-long event for faculty and staff earlier this year.

A whistleblower reportedly informed the Federalist that diversity coach Dena Simmons told attendees at the Feb. 26 event that Americans were “spiritually murdering” students and that “our education is based on a foundation of whitness.” Materials obtained by the outlet showed a slide describing “Make America Great Again,” “denial of white privilege,” and “colorblindness” as covert forms of White supremacy.

On Monday, The Federalist published the results of an open records request, which revealed the $10,500 price tag. That was on the lower end of Simmons’ advertised range of $10,000-$20,000, but translated into a rate of $175 per minute.

Simmons is the founder of a group known as “LiberatED,” which describes itself as “[a] social and emotional learning approach to racial justice and healing. A movement. A collective. A path towards liberation.”

News of Simmons’ fee came amid a broader controversy over how public institutions – schools, in particular – were promoting ideas such as critical race theory.

Anti-racist speaker and author Ibram Kendi reportedly received at least $44,000 from Fairfax County Schools, including $20,000 for a one-hour lecture. In neighboring Loudoun County, the school system reportedly spent at least $500,000 on race programs.

Critical race theory-type programs generally involve discussions of White privilege, teaching that racism is “systemic,” and other ideas.

Simmons’ “Surviving to Thriving” keynote was set to take place over Zoom. According to released documents, the Naperville 203 school district sent an email with the following descripion of the virtual event: “For community members to thrive, they must feel safe to be who they are; they must love themselves. As a result, our leadership, instruction and assessment must foster psychological and emotional safety through emotional intelligence, culturally responsivity and anti-racist practices. During this interactive session, participants will explore impostor syndrome, emotional intelligence and culturally relevant pedagogy, and anti-racist practices. Through narrative, Dr. Simmons will discuss how the intersection of emotionally intelligent and culturally relevant practices can create equitable and welcoming communities, where everyone can learn in the comfort of their skin.”

Its stated objectives included “discuss the skills of emotional intelligence as well as culturally relevant and anti-racist practices.”

The school district did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Simmons appeared to respond to the Federalist’s reporting on the event in an Instagram post on March 7, two days after the Federalist published its article with whistleblower accounts.

“Whiteness will do whatever is necessary to protect its power. People will die of whiteness before giving it up,” she said. 

“The irrational worship of whiteness will continue to keep us back. Together, we have work to do. I feel convicted to continue causing #goodtrouble despite the risks.”

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