Speaker uses racism to sell ‘diversity’ to CSHS students

By Linda Bentley | October 1, 2008

Parent furious over not being given an opt-out option
CCUSD – “Hey dad, did you know we’re all racists? Everyone has it born and bred into them,” said an angry parent who was repeating what his daughter told him when she described the assembly she attended at Cactus Shadows High School last week.

Asking not to be identified, the perturbed parent said the speaker, “Calvin,” apparently took the students through a series of exercises that made them feel terrible for the purpose of lifting them up in unity and “everyone feels really good about themselves afterward.”

Calvn TerrellCalvin is Calvin Terrell of a company called Social Centric Training and Consulting, who was introduced at an event earlier this year as an “internationally recognized visionary” who “opens his listeners minds as he educates them about the powers of intolerance and injustice in today’s society.”

However, there is no corporate entity named Social Centric Training and Consulting registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission, nor is there any organization or business registered in Terrell’s name.

Terrell is the former assistant director of The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, a national non-profit organization founded in 1927 to fight bias, bigotry and racism.

Although NCCJ is an interfaith organization seeking to promote harmony between different groups, especially those separated by race and religion, its membership is heavily represented by those of the Bahá'í faith, such as Terrell, even though its numbers are low with respect to the general population.

Hired to facilitate workshops on “Indigenous Solidarity” and “Latino Solidarity,” Terrell’s programs for Tribal Nations and government agencies include “prejudice/internalized oppression prevention training.”

SADD, which once stood for Students Against Drunk Driving and has since changed its name to Students Against Destructive Decisions, has engaged Terrell on numerous occasions.
A comment posted by “mousie01” last year on youthnoise.com, states: “Most recently my school SADD program brought Calvin Terrell to our school. He is one of the most controversial persons I have met. He divides the world into five types of people:
Warrior – fight for their beliefs
Soldier – takes orders
Coward – hides behind a false front
Thug – doesn’t care for anything
Rebel – fights everyone who tries to tell them what to do.”

The 2008 National SADD Conference, in a summary following day two of the event, posted, “The noon keynote was Calvin Terrell, and, by far, he left the crowd quieter than any other speaker at the conference.

“Calvin's message was about making people ‘warriors’ - fighting for what we, in our hearts and in our minds, know is right. That message was wrapped around very effective diversity training in an attempt to rid the world of violence, hate speech, and prejudice.

“Terrell was very engaging and thought-provoking ... I feel the general consensus was positive, and I left the keynote feeling a greater sense of togetherness.”

So long as diversity remains a government staple, Terrell will have a never-ending supply of work, with schools and various government agencies booking him for their assemblies, seminars, retreats, conferences, camps and other events.

In January, on nomanifest destity.wordpress.com, ptclark posted the following message headlined, “On motivational speakers:”

“Generally, I’m skeptical of motivational speakers …
“Today, my preconceptions about diversity training and motivational speakers were exploded by a man named Calvin Terrell. He came to speak at my middle school … The man taught my kids social consciousness, he touched on issues as intense as genocide and culturecide, he spoke on how the United States has created a ‘terrorist’ enemy across an ocean so we can ignore our own homegrown urban terrorism, and yet he emanated hope.
“At the end, every single kid in the seventh-grade class was crying and making promises I know they’ll never keep.”

Under condition of anonymity, another CCUSD parent, whose child was required to attend one of Terrell’s diversity assemblies when he was in middle school, said Terrell is very charismatic and seems to be able to entice an entire group of students to believe whatever he says.

After reading up on Terrell, the first parent said, “Nothing Mr. Terrell says can be quantified. He’s a visionary of what? What does he ‘see’ that I don’t? And what is this rubbish about opening minds? Why does he believe that my kid’s mind is automatically closed?
“The assumption here is that if you are white, you and your kids just don’t get it. This is all subjective ‘how do you feel’ garbage.”

CCUSD Director of Student Support Services Gina Durbin said Terrell’s purpose is to promote “sensitivity awareness” and the assembly was student-driven through the International Baccalaureate Program’s English teacher Kelly Henson and JAG’s (Jobs for Arizona Graduates) Speech and Debate teacher Erinn Ferris, with full knowledge of CSHS Principal Donna Lewis.

She said the district learns about student perceptions through answers to survey questions and receives numerous positive comments each time Terrell conducts an assembly.

The parent asked why the district doesn’t have someone from NASA, Intel or the military talk to students, stating, “It would be good for the kids to hear from someone that has actually accomplished something in their life,” rather this “lost 1960’s cause.”

He also said if CCUSD is going to subject his kids to this “trash,” he should be forewarned and, in the least, be given the opportunity to opt out.

A brief bio on Terrell posted on teenleader.org/camp states, “Calvin has mastered the art of effective diversity training helping hundreds of schools and organizations to measurably decrease violence, hate speech, and prejudice of all kinds.”

Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) appears to be the only school that allowed parents to opt-out as it touted Terrell’s facilitation of an on-campus retreat.

ASA says Terrell’s “a recognized authority on diversity, bullying and social justice issues and will work directly with students … in classrooms and meetings with student organization representatives.”

ASA’s opt-out form, provided to all parents, says, “you should be aware that his presentation may include … references of recent acts of violence based on ignorance or prejudices or word usage that historically denigrates certain individuals or groups. More importantly, his presentation will invite each student to become an ‘Agent of Unity’ … creating a safe school and community for every individual who attends ASA …”

Visit www.youtube.com/ watch?v=u2uIVe8NS9g to watch a video of one of Terrell’s presentations.

Photo: Calvin Terrell
Courtesy photo