Well-meaning Americans are being suckered into an illiberal political cabal.
Wack at Harvard-Westlake
Resistance rises at America’s top prep schools.
America’s elite schools are either toxic nests of racism, or insufferably woke indoctrination camps.
As the saying goes, Why not both?
The last few weeks have seen the first wave of real pushback against radically dumb wokification at formerly prestigious private schools—and this time it’s coming from inside the school.
Much has been written recently about the war taking place on America’s premiere private school campuses. A teacher at Grace School in New York wrote a brutal takedown of the woke regime. A parent at Brearley went viral with a scathing letter to his daughter’s school. Bari Weiss covered some of these recent skirmishes in her excellent City Journal piece. Los Angeles Magazine slapped the Brentwood School wokelash on its April cover.
The latest field of battle for woke critical race theorists and their civilian opponents is Instagram. Instead of waiting for journalists to expose the controlled detonation of their schools, brave prisoners trapped inside the schoo-lags are fighting back as citizen journalists. No one at the top will risk their bloated salaries by pushing against the madness, so that job has been left to an underground group of students, parents, and staff.
It’s not political with them; I doubt many of them are conservatives. But some of them dimly remember how things used to be long ago, like back in 2019, and they have not yet gouged out their own eyes and performed lobotomies on their own brains.
They simply see that it was better before.
Going on Offense
One intrepid anonymous insider started an Instagram account called Woke at Harvard-Westlake to leak the ridiculous and insipid propaganda being fed to students at this, the top-rated school in California. Alumni and students include Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Segel, Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter), Les Moonves’ kid, the president of ABC News Ben Sherwood, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, recalled California governor Gray Davis, late Clinton confidante Steve Bing, Tom Hanks’s kids, Nixon enforcer H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, Will Ferrell’s kids, Bob Iger’s kids, CNN reporter Jessica Yellin, and many more.
Harvard-Westlake is still the #2 school in California, but not for long. It recently declared an unconditional surrender to their BLM masters. They didn’t just kneel to the mob; the administration at HW dropped their trousers, clutched their ankles, rubbed some baby oil on their backsides, and shouted “Thank you, Sir, may I have another!”
According to the Woke at Harvard-Westlake Instagram bio, they are “Documenting the self-destruction of an elite private school. Led by concerned students, parents, faculty, & alums.” With over 1500 followers at a school of 1600 students, they have stumbled upon a potent weapon against the wokeness.
The American Mind talked to the anonymous hero behind the Woke at Harvard-Westlake account, and here’s what we learned.
Their supporters may not yet be a silent majority, but “there are a significant number of parents and students (and HW staff) who are involved in this effort, and we know of many more who are afraid to get involved in fear of the woke mob. We’ve always been heartened by the amount of support we receive, much of it being quiet encouragement.”
How do students who aren’t on board with these changes make it through? According to Woke at HW, it’s easy: they just stay quiet. “Most of them simply shut up. They know there are consequences, including punitive grading, for openly opposing wokeism or expressing certain opinions, so they simply choose not to rock the boat. We don’t blame them. They’re in a difficult position.”
Imagine paying $50,000 a year to have your child’s mind poisoned by people who hate you. Some parents are doing their best to protect their children from the corrosive curriculum, but it’s a losing battle. Woke at HW reports that “one of the most common complaints we hear is parents talking about how tired they are of ‘deprogramming’ their kids every night—helping them unlearn the toxic identity politics they are inculcated with every day. A lot of parents feel trapped. Their kids are several years into school, and it’s not so easy to pull them out a year or two before graduation. And for what—to attend another woke madrasa?”
Attention entrepreneurs: the opportunity to start a network of non-woke schools has never been greater!
So far, Harvard-Westlake itself has been powerless to stop the leaks. “We know the page has been a source of significant fear and loathing inside the school among some, and gratitude among many others. If school officials think we’ve gotten something wrong or would like to respond to something we’ve posted, we would welcome that. But it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s been around the woke that they don’t really do dialogue or debate. They try to hide their activities behind ridiculous slogans like ‘antiracism’ and when you do catch them doing something inhumane and awful, they attack you as a racist.”
The “Black at” Movement
The “Woke at” moniker, of course, is in direct response to the “Black at” movement, which started in June 2020 on Instagram. That’s when black students at the nation’s elite prep schools took their grievances public. Dozens of “Black at ___” Instagram accounts popped up, including “Black at Harvard-Westlake,” to document in vivid detail every macro and micro aggression ever inflicted on these oppressed graduates. It is an epic Airing of the Grievances by privileged children who are virtually guaranteed acceptances to the most prestigious colleges in the world.
Just do a search for “@blackat” on Instagram and you will see accounts for dozens of schools. East Coast glamour schools like Dalton, Fieldston, Brearley, Chapin, and Deerfield are bristling with hate.
Attendees at the radically progressive Crossroads School in Santa Monica—a celebrity finishing school of sorts for alumni like Jonah Hill, Gwyneth Paltrow, Maya Rudolph, Jack Black, Shaquille O’Neal’s kid, Steven Spielberg’s children, Lebron James’s kids, and Judd Apatow’s kids— act like it subjects students of color to daily Klan rallies. One student posted: “You have failed your BIPOC community members for fifty years. Today, we present you with an opportunity to change your ways. Will you take it?”
There’s even a “Black at Sidwell Friends,” the white supremacist hate camp the naive Obamas sent their poor daughters to.
If you believe the “Black at” movement, being forced to attend one of these schools is a traumatic experience that subjects kids to years of psychological abuse and torture which not even a free ride at Princeton can heal.
Now is the Time for Action
The Woke at HW group offers this excellent advice for other people watching their own schools circle the drain: “Copy us. Please, please copy us! Talk to each other, band together, take a stand, and get the truth out. The best way to get the truth out is an anonymous Instagram page. Post what the school is doing. Let the world see how crazy and toxic it is. Don’t let slick school spokesmen characterize the revolution for the outside world—show the outside world the revolution yourself. The woke despise being criticized because they have no real ability to debate, since debate requires thinking and persuasion, and wokeism is about power and intimidation. Get together with like-minded parents and start an Instagram page!”
Yes, you should do that. But don’t stop there. As always, it’s the alumni and donors that control the kill switch at these schools. If the money dries up, things can change. According to Woke at HW, “the single most important thing other than getting out the truth about what’s happening in classrooms is for alums, donors, and parents to stop giving to private schools—and to tell the schools why. Behind all the pious and self-congratulatory nonsense you hear from private school leaders about ‘equity and inclusion,’ the fact is they still need to hit fundraising targets. We know it’s not realistic for many parents to pull their kids out in the middle of high school. But you can stop giving to the annual fund, and donors can tell the board they’re suspending support until the wokeness stops.”
The good news, if you can call it that, is that the future does not look bright for these schools. Woke at HW sees reason for hope. “They are at a fork in the road. Wokeness is toxic, and is making these schools toxic. They will destroy themselves with it. Reputations take decades to build and minutes to destroy. Harvard-Westlake is in the process of destroying its reputation. That is entirely a choice its board and leadership has made.”
Parents, you too have a choice. Choose to save your children from these horribly racist and very woke schools.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.