Texas School’s First Black Principal Suspended After Being Accused Of Promoting ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Of Systemic Racism

Photo: Twitter / Dr. James Whitfield
Principal Dr. James Whitfield Colleyville Heritage High School

As the conservative war against critical race theory continues, one Black school principal in Texas has become collateral damage.

Dr. James Whitfield, the first Black principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, was placed on administrative leave just weeks after parents called for him to be fired — accusing him of promoting critical race theory.

Why was the Texas school’s first Black principal suspended?

Whitfield says he was given no explanation for his suspension but believes it may be related to a July board of trustees meeting in which several parents complained about his role in the school.

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One parent said Whitfield "promotes the conspiracy theory of systemic racism" and alleged he held “extreme views on race.”

In the audience, others clapped and shouted that Whitfield should be fired. 

The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District say that Whitfield's suspension was not a result of the meeting.

"Nor was the decision made in response to allegations Dr. Whitfield was teaching Critical Race Theory,” they added but didn’t give any further details. 

Dr. James Whitfield was asked to remove a social media post with his white wife. 

Whitfield previously made headlines in the summer after revealing his school district told him to take down a photo on social media that showed him embracing his wife, who is white, in 2019.

The district claimed they made the request to provide Whitfield with a "smooth transition" to his new role and not because of race.

They also stated that the images were not the cause of his suspension.

However, Whitfield says the controversy surrounding the photos made him feel "small, insignificant, and undervalued as a staff member."

The images, which were from 10 years ago, resurfaced amid calls for his firing.

Support for Whitfield is growing online.

A petition calling for Whitfield to be reinstated emerged online, criticizing those who begged for him to be fired.

“We believe that Dr Whitfield has proven himself to be both professional & inclusive of all of his students and their educational goals & needs while maintaining an upbeat demeanor even at difficult times,” the petition reads. 

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Dozens of students also gathered to protest Whitfield’s suspension.

“It’s become blatant racism and bigotry. It’s escalated so much to just personal attacks on a man that they do not even know,” one student said.

Whitfield says he does not teach critical race theory.

Despite the claims made by parents, Whitfield insists that he doesn’t teach critical race theory.

In fact, as a principal, he doesn’t teach any students at all. 

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"I don't promote in schools critical race theory. That is something that is studied at the doctoral level," he said. 

"Like, I don't go around having conversations with kids about, 'Hey let's talk about systemic racism, let's talk about diversity and inclusion.' That's not what I do."

critical race theory has become a conservative talking point in recent months with many states, including Texas, placing bans on the teaching of the theory in schools.

The concept simply interrogates the influence racism has had on institutions and to weaponize it against a Black principal does exactly what CRT sets out to address.

The seemingly unjustified suspension of Whitfield betrays an ignorance to the true meaning of CRT. 

But, as Whitfield points out, debating CRT is not even relevant in this context as he is not teaching it.

“I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman,” he wrote in a Facebook post addressing his critics.

“I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be. But here’s the deal — I’m here.”

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Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.