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Paul Vallas, a leading candidate for Mayor of Chicago, agreed with the notion that anti-racist or “woke” teaching leads Black students to become criminals.

“Paul, I often wonder, as a Black, kid, why wouldn’t you become a criminal if you’re hearing this stuff in school,” a host asked Vallas in a 2021 episode of The Dialogue. “Everybody with white skin is an oppressor,” the host continued. “If you have black skin, you’re oppressed. That makes it pretty easy to justify pretty bad conduct in my opinion.”

“Well you’re absolutely right,” Vallas chimed in. “But what you’re also doing – you’re giving people an excuse for bad behavior. You’re almost justifying.”

“Where’s the accountability?” Vallas went on. “You’re a victim. What’s happening is it becomes a justification for everything and I think that’s a very dangerous thing.”

He went on to say that anti-racist teaching “distracts” from quality instruction in core subject areas. Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, even said anti-racist curriculum “undermines the relationship of children with their parents.”

“For white parents, how are you going to discipline your child when your child comes home and has basically been told that their… parents or grandparents have discriminated against others and have somehow victimized another person’s race,” Vallas continued.

“But for that matter, if you’re a Black child, how do you go home and listen to your parent when your parent has failed to be successful…?”

Chicago community leaders outraged by Vallas’s comments

Community leaders across Chicago expressed anger over comments from Vallas, who is backed by Chicago’s police union. Some have called them a blatant attack on Black History.

Robert Starks, a former professor at Northeastern University, said the remarks were “right out of the Ron DeSantis playbook.”

“How can you say that all of that is the cause of African American kids being criminals,” Starks asked in an interview with The Chicago Crusader.

“That’s insane. How do you explain the criminality on the part of white kids? Is it therefore that because they have all of these privileges that gives them the right to be criminals?”

Vallas’s opponent in the April 4th mayoral election also rebuked the comments.

“Chicagoans are starting to learn who the true Paul Vallas is,” said mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson. “A man who does not respect Black people, our history or our daily experiences.”

Nate Morris moved to the Tulsa area in 2012 and has committed himself to helping build a more equitable and just future for everyone who calls the city home. As a teacher, advocate, community organizer...