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Racism Reimagined: How Critical Race Theory Imperils the American Workplace
Critical race theory supports the logic that all whites are born racists and oppressors by nature. They are to be viewed as a collective threat to non-white people and beyond redemption. This sentiment is already infecting the American workplace via racial sensitivity and diversity trainings.
Despite the obvious controversy, such trainings are being accepted as just and fair; and at an alarming pace across Corporate America.
This piece is written with a three-fold purpose.
- To explain the basics of Critical Race Theory
- To demonstrate how Critical Race Theory is negatively affecting the American workplace
- To inspire a resistance to Critical Race Theory being taught in the workplace
In light of the increased sensitivity to recent events like the George Floyd protests, the emergence of cancel culture, and the pressures on corporations to adhere to political correctness, the information herein is a counter-balance that should be carefully considered prior to new investments in diversity trainings.
A Few Points of Consideration First
When discussing matters related to politics and society there is the potential of triggered animosity where ideas are rejected, silenced or canceled out right. This is to be expected with this treatise. I do not expect to persuade every reader to my way of thinking.
Academic research proves contrary arguments cause the opposing parties to double down on their viewpoints. Case in point, consider the study – “Exposure to Opposing Views Can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment on Social Media.”
It was conducted by several professors of Sociology, Political Science and Statistical Science from Duke University, Princeton University and New York University. The findings were published on March 19, 2018. This is the summary of what they discovered.
There is mounting concern that social media sites contribute to political polarization by creating “echo chambers” that insulate people from opposing views about current events. We surveyed a large sample of Democrats and Republicans who visit Twitter at least three times each week about a range of social policy issues.
One week later, we randomly assigned respondents to a treatment condition in which they were offered financial incentives to follow a Twitter bot for one month that exposed them to messages produced by elected officials, organizations, and other opinion leaders with opposing political ideologies.
Respondents were re-surveyed at the end of the month to measure the effect of this treatment, and at regular intervals throughout the study period to monitor treatment compliance.
We find that Republicans who followed a liberal Twitter bot became substantially more conservative post-treatment, and Democrats who followed a conservative Twitter bot became slightly more liberal post-treatment. These findings have important implications for the interdisciplinary literature on political polarization as well as the emerging field of computational social science.
Secondarily, I do not expect every reader to follow my reasoning because for some people Critical Race Theory is a religion of blind faith. The Western Journal makes a commentary in support of this idea. To quote…
One aspect that separates Christianity from other religions and belief systems is the evidentiary basis for it. Scripture provides historical and logical evidence to back up its claims that Christ is the son of God and only through his sacrifice can human beings be redeemed.
While secular leftists scoff at the above evidence, they hypocritically make absolutely no effort to provide any to support their new religious orthodoxy of critical theory.
This gives critical theorists the room to make broad, radical statements about society without having to provide one bit of evidence…To put it another way, critical theorists nitpick aspects of society that they deem to be unfair, whether that opinion is based on facts or not.
All that being said, it is important to have a foundational view of what Critical Race Theory is and why, in my view, it is so pernicious. Critical race theory (CRT) uses racism to combat largely imaginary racism. Its doctrine promotes systematic racism, white privilege and white fragility. These Marxist-inspired ideologies are designed to create hate and division. I now quote the Pulpit and Pen article “4 Main Things Christians Need to Know About Critical Race Theory.”
Invented by Derrick Bell and other attorneys as a spin-off of Critical Legal Theory in American law schools in the 1980s, these theorists were disenchanted with the results of the Civil Rights Movement. Bell, Richard Delgado, and other CRT thinkers viewed classical liberal ideas such as meritocracy (people being rewarded based on their individual merits), equal opportunity, and colorblind justice (like that promoted by Dr. King) to all be factors that cause systemic, invisible, intangible racism.
What many people don’t understand is that CRT rejects most of the things that the 1960s Civil Rights Movement fought for, like treating people equally in institutions and under the law. Instead, CRT teaches that if power is to be properly redistributed from the “haves” to “have-nots” (which in their eyes include minority identity groups), the law may actually need to biased in favor of minority identity groups.
It is likely that the 1960s Civil Rights leaders like Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Hosea Williams, and Gloria Richardson all would have opposed CRT vehemently, as it denies that people should be judged “by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” CRT, conversely, teaches that skin color (or identity group) is the lens through which all things – especially justice – should be viewed.
I like how James Lindsay breaks down the major tenets of CRT in his article, “Eight Big Reasons Critical Race Theory Is Terrible for Dealing with Racism” and they are that Critical Race Theory…
- …believes racism is present in every aspect of life, every relationship, and every interaction and therefore has its advocates look for it everywhere
- …relies upon “interest convergence” (white people only give black people opportunities and freedoms when it is also in their own interests) and therefore doesn’t trust any attempt to make racism better
- …is against free societies and wants to dismantle them and replace them with something its advocates control (which is a very Marxist way of thinking)
- …only treats race issues as “socially constructed groups,” so there are no individuals in Critical Race Theory (for example, depending on the racial group you’re in, you are oppressed despite how financially successful you may be as an individual).
- …believes science, reason, and evidence are a “white” way of knowing and that storytelling and lived experience is a “black” alternative, which hurts everyone, especially black people [My note added here: so, in other words, things like statistics and logic don’t matter. What matters is how you feel.]
- …rejects all potential alternatives, like colorblindness, as forms of racism, making itself the only allowable game in town [My note added here: In other words, judging people based on their character and not their color, is racist.]
- …acts like anyone who disagrees with it must do so for racist and white supremacist reasons, even if those people are black [My note added here: which is why black conservatives like Candace Owens can be called a white supremacist with a straight face. Anyone who disagrees with CRT is by CRT standards, a racist.]
- …cannot be satisfied, so it becomes a kind of activist black hole that threatens to destroy everything it is introduced into.
Now, let’s apply these rules to the workplace and you see the horrific potential.
- The white CEO of your company is racist and has proven their bias by their outright denial of their own inherent racism.
- The Black CEO or female CEO of your company is racist should they dismiss the “reality” that racism is everywhere and as such, prevalent in the company they lead.
- Any diversity and inclusion initiative results from “interest convergence” and done solely to somehow benefit the white people inside the company.
- Since the company itself is racist, it’s systems must be dismantled and replaced (in part or in whole), so as to insure fairness for all oppressed people who work there.
- Requiring proof of systemic racism within the company is racist as feelings and lived experiences are enough for any accusation to be accepted as fact. This is especially true if oppressed groups are not promoted within the company regardless of their individual merit.
CRT fully realized in your organization leads to an internal activism where demands will be made and trouble threatened if they do not get their way. If you give into them, you will not satisfy them, however, because Critical Race Theory cannot be satisfied.
It is guaranteed, before you do anything at all, that you will do it wrong because of your racism. You did it in a way that just created new problems that amount to racism. You didn’t do it sooner, faster, or better because of your racism. No matter what you do, the resulting situation must contain racism, and the Critical Race Theory activist’s job is to find it and hold you to account.
Case in point, consider the situation of Gary Garrels.
The website Reason reported on how a museum curator was forced to resign over racist remarks that were arguably, nothing of the kind.
Until last week, Gary Garrels was senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He resigned his position after museum employees circulated a petition that accused him of racism and demanded his immediate ouster.
“Gary’s removal from SFMOMA is non-negotiable,” read the petition. “Considering his lengthy tenure at this institution, we ask just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum?”
This accusation—that Garrels’ choices as an art curator are guided by white supremacist beliefs—is a very serious one. Unsurprisingly, it does not stand up to even minimal scrutiny.
The petitioners cite few examples of anything even approaching bad behavior from Garrels. Their sole complaint is that he allegedly concluded a presentation on how to diversify the museum’s holdings by saying, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”
Garrels has apparently articulated this sentiment on more than one occasion. According to artnet.com, he said that it would be impossible to completely shun white artists, because this would constitute “reverse discrimination.” That’s the sum total of his alleged crimes. He made a perfectly benign, wholly inoffensive, obviously true statement that at least some of the museum’s featured artists would continue to be white. The petition lists no other specific grievances.
According to Critical Race Theory, Gary Garrel’s implied crimes were:
- He did not overly favor the oppressed minority class of artists by not removing the white artists.
- He did not recognize the inherent racism of saying that he would still collect art from white artists.
- The ignorance of his own white supremacist beliefs was enough to justify his exit.
Can you imagine this type of incident being multiplied across workplaces in America? You don’t have to imagine, it already is.
According to Newsmax, “Nearly every major U.S. company now has a diversity and inclusion department offering lessons in unconscious bias, workshops on “white privilege,” and “struggle sessions” on systemic racism to their employees.
According to McKinsey & Company, they collectively spend $8 billion for these services annually, with consultants raking in a combined $400 million-$600 million in fees.”
With this type of return, the grievance industry is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Yet, with everything shared so far, what can a company expect when they hire someone to give a workshop that is rooted in CRT? I have two examples to share. The first quote is from Independent Women’s Forum.
As I document in detailed reports for City Journal and the New York Post, critical race theory training sessions in public agencies have pushed a deeply ideological agenda that includes reducing people to a racial essence, segregating them, and judging them by their group identity rather than individual character, behavior and merit.
The examples are instructive. At a series of events at the Treasury Department and federal financial agencies, diversity trainer Howard Ross taught employees that America was “built on the backs of people who were enslaved” and that all white Americans are complicit in a system of white supremacy “by automatic response to the ways we’re taught.”
In accompanying documents, Mr. Ross argues that whites share an inborn oppressive streak. “Whiteness,” employees are told, “includes white privilege and white supremacy.” Consequently, whites “struggle to own their racism.” He instructs managers to conduct “listening sessions” in which black employees can speak about their experience and be “seen in their pain,” while white employees are instructed to “sit in the discomfort” and not “fill the silence with your own thoughts and feelings.” Members of “the group you’re allying with,” Mr. Ross says, are not “obligated to like you, thank you, feel sorry for you, or forgive you.” For training like this, Mr. Ross and his firm have been paid $5 million over 15 years, according to federal disclosures.
Further in the article, there is mention of Sandia National Laboratories.
At the Sandia National Laboratories, which develops technology for America’s nuclear arsenal, executives held a racially segregated training session for white male employees. The three-day event, which was led by a company called White Men as Full Diversity Partners, set the goal of examining “white male culture” and making the employees take responsibility for their “white privilege,” “male privilege” and “heterosexual privilege.”
In one of the opening exercises, the instructors wrote on a whiteboard that “white male culture” can be associated with “white supremacists,” “KKK,” “Aryan Nation,” “MAGA hat” and “mass killings.” On the final day, the trainers asked employees to write letters to women and people of color. One participant apologized for his privilege and another pledged to “be a better ally.”
(A link to the training materials used at the Sandia National Laboratories can be found online here.)
And now this, what follows is an infamous example of a “trainer” giving a presentation called “All White People are Racists” and from what I can discern, much of the tone is mired in critical race theory. I label it “infamous” because it went viral earlier this year.
As one might imagine from the above video and the examples cited prior, this type of training can have the opposite effect of what was intended. Ironically, this is not a new revelation. There have been many studies that prove that possibility. Here are some quotes from a 2016 Harvard Business Review article – “Why Diversity Programs Fail.”
Do people who undergo training usually shed their biases? Researchers have been examining that question since before World War II, in nearly a thousand studies. It turns out that while people are easily taught to respond correctly to a questionnaire about bias, they soon forget the right answers. The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two, and a number of studies suggest that it can activate bias or spark a backlash. Nonetheless, nearly half of midsize companies use it, as do nearly all the Fortune 500.
Research from the University of Toronto reinforces our findings: In one study white subjects read a brochure critiquing prejudice toward blacks. When people felt pressure to agree with it, the reading strengthened their bias against blacks. When they felt the choice was theirs, the reading reduced bias.
“…participants were divided into two groups—an autonomy group and a control group—and asked to read a brief anti-prejudice essay. The autonomy group read an essay that emphasized individual choice, explaining why open-mindedness is a more joyful way to live… Before and after reading the essays, participants took a multiple-choice exam designed to test their biases. Participants who read the autonomy essay displayed less prejudice, as expected. But participants who read the control essay tended to test as more prejudiced than they had before. Reading the demands set off what the researchers called a “counter-response to threatened autonomy”: a backlash. In other words, employees need to feel that they’re freely choosing to be nonprejudiced, not that they’re having it forced upon them.”
All this being said, am I implying that all diversity and/or racial sensitivity training does more harm than good?
No, I am not. Neither am I saying that racism does not exist.
Racism exists and will always exist because 1) it is a heart condition that cannot be dismantled by mandate, legislation or triggered responses, and frankly, 2) there is too much money made from its exploitation.
I also want to be clear that there are instances when diversity measures are fair and warranted.
For example, the HBR article I cited earlier mentioned a field study conducted by Emilio Castilla of MIT’s Sloan School of Management:
“A firm found it consistently gave African-Americans smaller raises than whites, even when they had identical job titles and performance ratings.
So Castilla suggested transparency to activate social accountability. The firm posted each unit’s average performance rating and pay raise by race and gender. Once managers realized that employees, peers, and superiors would know which parts of the company favored whites, the gap in raises all but disappeared.”
My sincerest hope with all of this is that I spark hesitation when considering diversity-related training that includes critical race theory.
To put it simply…
- Critical Race Theory ruins team cohesion across diverse groups.
- Critical Race Theory will encourage racism witch hunts inside your company.
- Critical Race Theory encourages rewards based on race and not merit.
- Critical Race Theory forced upon your employees will likely cause a backlash effect.
For the sake of the company and all those employed within, run (don’t walk) away from critical race theory.
Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group (acquired by Findly) and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the sourcing and recruiting headaches of Randstad clients worldwide as its Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. Presently, he serves as VP, Marketing for Proactive Talent - the most recognized and respected name in talent attraction and hiring. Jim Stroud has created and sold five online properties, managed an award-winning blog, published a weekly newsletter for jobseekers, a recruiter training magazine and co-hosted a popular technology podcast. Jim Stroud has also produced multiple web series devoted to such topics as: job search, recruiting, technology and language learning. Jim Stroud has been quoted by such publications as Globe and Mail, US News and World Report, Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Monster.com, Entrepreneur Magazine, Black Enterprise and The HR Examiner have all cited Jim Stroud for his digital influence. Jim Stroud also served as the emcee of SourceCon, the premier global conference on sourcing for three consecutive years. He has also presented as a keynote speaker at Sourcing Summit Europe, Sourcing Summit Asia, the Australasian Talent Conference, Recruiters Hub NZ and TRU London. Jim Stroud is the author of 5 HR related books, producer of the YouTube series - "The Jim Stroud Show," producer of "The Things I Think About Podcast" and publisher of the "Black History Quiz" newsletter. More details highlighting his career and his work history can be found on his blog - JimStroud.com. When not online, Jim Stroud suffers from withdrawal symptoms that can only be soothed by chocolate chip cookies and family time. Sign up for Jim Stroud updates here: https://sendfox.com/jimstroud
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