NEW ROCHELLE, NY — At the Town Hall last Wednesday organized by the New Rochelle Board of Education to introduce Dr. Laura Feijóo, Board President Amy Moselhi disputed the existence of “reverse racism” and described her views on racism to be a shared value of the board.
“I do not believe reverse racism exists,” said Amy Moselhi, adding “I absolutely believe that my colleagues understand racism to be prejudice plus power”. (VIDEO 21:48 mark)
UPDATE 7/23 4:59 PM: Amy Moselhi sent the following email:
“I would like the BOE to know that you asked me yesterday if I spoke to my colleagues before making this statement and I said no,” wrote Moselhi with a cc to the entire board. “Please know that this comment does not have the consensus of the BOE.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: We replied requesting a list of which board members agree with her definition of racism.
In a radio interview with Bob Marrone on WVOX the following morning, Moselhi was asked about her statements the night before and an undated letter she sent in her capacity Board President on District letterhead to the NAACP New Rochelle branch in which she described litigation involving Feijóo and the New York City Department of Education as a “reverse discrimination lawsuit.”
Feijóo, along with two colleagues, filed a $90 million lawsuit on May 28th, in which Feijóo describes herself as a victim of discrimination based on race and gender because she is a Caucasian woman.
Marrone wanted to know how Moselhi could reconcile her saying Feijóo’s complaint was for “reverse discrimination” based, in part, on Feijóo’s race and her saying “reverse racism” does not exist.
Moselhi told Marrone that people were confused because they were conflating “racism” with “discrimination”. Marrone did not come away satisfied that he had gotten a responsive answer to his question.
In an interview the next day to clarify any confusion, we asked Moselhi to reconcile her public statements on Wednesday with her letter to the NAACP.
Moselhi said that she did not believe Feijóo’s complaint was a “reverse discrimination” lawsuit.
Asked why she used those words in her letter to the NAACP, Moselhi said those words were used by the NAACP and rather than debate that point she replied using their description of the complaint in her response even though she does not believe them to be accurate.
UPDATE: NAACP New Rochelle Branch President Minister Mark McLean has denied the term “reverse discrimination lawsuit” appeared in the NAACP letter to BOE President Amy Moselhi.
“I wrote the NAACP letter,” said McLean. “The term ‘reverse discrimination’ was deliberately not used in the letter.”
UPDATE: Amy Moselhi responded to the update above “that was an honest mistake. The article reported it correctly. I just misquoted the letter. I remembered it incorrectly.”
At the Town Hall, Moselhi saw the current debate over Feijóo’s hiring as a positive development in New Rochelle.
“For the first time we are having a conversation of this size, at this level, and that is something that is important and should be sustained,” she said. “These conversations need to continue to happen.”
The conversation Moselhi is advocating for is one predicated on the belief that New Rochelle, like the rest of America, is fundamentally, structurally racist and that the racist structure needs to be dismantled.
The construct of racism as “prejudice plus power “ is what is known as a stipulative definition of racism often used by anti-racist educators. A “stipulative definition” is a “type of definition in which a new or currently-existing term is given a new specific meaning for the purposes of argument or discussion in a given context.” In other words it is unilaterally redefining words to mean whatever you want them to mean.
Moselhi’s alternative definition of racism was first proposed in 1970 by Patricia Bidol-Padva, a then-Schools Superintendent in Michigan in her now-out-of-print book “Developing New Perspectives on Race: An Innovative Multi-Media Social Studies Curriculum in Racism Awareness for the Secondary Level”.
This book, along with “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, are two of the seminal works used to develop “anti-racism training”.
In their book, Delgado and Stefanic contend that racism is “a means by which society allocates privilege and status” in which “racial hierarchies determine who gets tangible benefits, including the best jobs, the best schools, and invitations to parties in people’s homes.” Their solution is to tear down and replace those hierarchies.
Bidol-Padva formulated her ideas two decades earlier as “racism equal prejudice plus power,” a definition at odds with most Americans understanding of racism. For adherents to this point of view, racism has nothing to do with attitudes about racial groups and everything to do with “redistributive justice” among racial groups.
Moselhi explained her understanding of Bidol-Padva’s definition of racism as “privilege plus power” to mean the “foot of the oppressor” (white people) is on the neck of the oppressed (black people)”.
“Only White people have that,” said Moselhi, “so black people cannot be racist”.
Moselhi described her understanding of racism as a “widely held view”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Moselhi later amended her statement in our interview from “privilege plus power” to what she said last Wednesday, “prejudice plus power”.
Challenged on that claim, Moselhi cited the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism, claiming it supported her belief that Bidol-Padva’s definition of racism is widely-held.
“Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior” or “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
Upon having the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism read back to her, Moselhi seemed perplexed as to why “privilege plus power” was not part of the definition when the people she knows accept the “privilege plus power” definition (i.e., “prejudice plus power”).
A review of literature on racism indicates that the “prejudice plus power” construct is not a widely held understanding of the definition of racism but largely confined to radical left activists and academics.
One of the most controversial aspects of the “prejudice plus power” construct is that white people include Jews so Jews cannot be victims of discrimination. Far-left activists such as Linda Sarsour have used this definition to defend black people such as Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrahkhan against charges of anti-Semitism; Farrahkhan cannot be anti-Semitic because Jews are not only white but are “in control” and Farrahkan is black.
In a 2018 article, K.C. Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College noted “If Jews are seen as ‘white’ (which, in this permutation of progressivism, they are), and ‘whites’ cannot be subjected to racist attacks, then anti-Semitism becomes a trivial concern”.
UPDATE: Amy Moselhi offered the following clarification of her remarks in our interview on Friday:
“I did not say people who have come to be known as white could not be the victims of racism. I said that only the dominant race, which here in the USA is White, can be racist. I said POC could not be a racist but could be biased or prejudiced or discriminatory. A Jewish person can be the victim of a racist act.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: We agree that Amy Moselhi did not say “people who have come to be known as white could not be the victims of racism” which is why there is no mention of that in the article. She did not say “POC could not be a racist” she only mentioned Black people; obviously Black people are included under POC or People of Color.” We have detailed notes of the interview. We stand by our reporting.