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Heather Griffin on Why White Parents Shouldn’t Be Threatened by Ethnic Studies

by Ari Robin McKenna

This is the fourth in a series of articles featuring the words of local ethnic studies educators who are doing work to address systemic racism in our classrooms. To read the first, on Amanda Hubbard, click here. To read the second, on Bruce Jackson, click here. To read the third, on Shraddha Shirude, click here. To read the series intro, click here.


Editor’s Note: The following article includes a discussion on the racist attitudes some teachers harbor towards BIPOC students. This content might be disturbing, so we encourage everyone to prepare themselves emotionally before proceeding. If you believe that the reading will be traumatizing for you, we suggest you forego it.

If ethnic studies were to become an integral part of Seattle’s K–12 public education system, as Heather Griffin hopes, it could result in a profound shift away from systemic racism, led by youth, towards a more equitable future for this city. But for this to happen — sooner rather than later — Heather knows many of Seattle Public Schools’ white parents will have to reckon with their doubts, reason through their concerns, and reach for an understanding of the deeper fears they may be gripped by but hesitate to give voice to. Heather Griffin knows, because she has.

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