A Black high school principal in Texas is under fire from parents who accuse him of teaching Critical Race Theory. One parent took exception to a photo of him on social media embracing his wife who is white. Instead of standing up for him, the school district told him to take it down without telling him why, a local NBC affiliate reported.
Someone posted the photo of Colleyville Heritage High School Principal James Whitfield and wife online with the words, “Is this the Dr. Whitfield we want leading our schools?” The photo was taken by a professional photographer on their wedding anniversary.
Whitfield said he thinks the parent had a problem with him being in an interracial marriage.
Whitfield, who was named principal of Colleyville Heritage High School ahead of the 2020-21 school year, has been accused online and in board meetings of teaching critical race theory and promoting a belief that white people are inherently racist.
It’s something he and the district have denied. Stressed over the accusations, Whitfield said he couldn’t shake the photo incident of 2019 from his head and the district’s conclusion the photo was inappropriate.
“They said, ‘Could you take it down? Can you take this picture down? Can you hide it?’ and I asked, ‘Why? What’s wrong with the picture?’ It was, ‘Hey, I am trying to avoid any conflict.”
According to a statement released by the district, the controversy over the photo had nothing to do with race.
“When a social media concern is brought to the attention of the district, we have a responsibility to review it. Some of the photos the district received contained poses that are questionable for an educator, especially a principal or administrator. It had absolutely nothing to do with race,” the statement read. “As a new campus principal, we wanted to provide a smooth transition for Dr. Whitfield to Heritage Middle School, which is why we advised him of the concern and made a request for the photos to be taken down from Facebook.”
A petition supporting Whitfield has garnered hundreds of signatures, and he says he’s grateful for the support and wishes he had spoken out sooner.
“I wish I had the conviction to say, ‘No, I’m not going to take it down; that’s a picture of me and my wife kissing on the beach; there’s no reason for me to take this photo down,'” he said.