An administrator, Hugo Mahabir, whose family has roots in Trinidad, blocked that. He wrote in an email to Mr. Rossi that Mr. Loury’s argument — delivered to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics faculty — “rings hollow,” and that to give students a Black conservative view on race might “confuse and/or enflame students.” Mr. Mahabir did not respond to requests for comment.
The transcript of the February session with Mr. Rossi’s white affinity group revealed a tense, probing discussion, with teachers and students found on either side of various questions. Toward the end, the dean of student life, Ilana Laurence, offered thanks: “As uncomfortable as Mr. Rossi may have made many people here, I firmly believe that our conversation would not ever have been nearly as rich and thought-provoking.”
This drew support from the consultant, Emily Schorr Lesnick, who ran the affinity session. At a faculty meeting a few days later, she noted that Mr. Rossi and fellow teachers modeled an intelligent discussion.
“I have been in lots of spaces with adults, with students around antiracist work,” she said, where white people are “kind of just saying things and going through the motions and this was not that space, and I am so so grateful.” Ms. Schorr Lesnick, who is white, did not respond to a request for an interview.
That air of congratulation dissipated. Soon Mr. Rossi talked with Mr. Davison, the school head, about the dim shape of his future. He secretly recorded that conversation.
It offered a surprise. “The fact is that I’m agreeing with you that there has been a demonization,” Mr. Davison told the teacher. “I also have grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us in the name of antiracist.”
Mr. Davison said he was worried students were made to feel shame because of race. “We’re demonizing white people for being born,” he said, adding later, “We’re using language that makes them feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible.”