(John Murawski, RealClearInvestigations) A white physician working in Raleigh, N.C., says he has participated in multiple diversity training exercises – including two in the last two years – without a fuss. But he was taken aback when his employer, Duke University Health System, said this summer it will roll out a comprehensive strategy to purge the last vestiges of racism from the workplace.
The way it looks to him, Duke basically wants him to admit he’s a racist and repent.
Like a growing number of organizations around the country responding to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Duke is adopting anti-racist advocacy as an organizational mission. That mission doesn’t mention time-honored workplace goals like color-blindness, meritocracy, or equal opportunity; instead, its target is the so-called complicity of America and its citizens in “structural racism,” “oppression,” and denialism.
“I feel like my employer is calling me ‘racist’ and I then saying I must agree,” the doctor, who requested anonymity, told RealClearInvestigations. He said he is troubled that Duke’s leadership is imposing its political ideology on staff, implicating employees in a sweeping moral narrative, and dedicating itself to the task of “uncovering this hidden racism the employer is sure lurks within.”
Workers are coming under increasing pressure to support social justice programs on race and gender that would have been considered radical just a few years ago and too divisive to be injected into the workplace. Now an organization’s commitment to fighting racism and identity-related “phobias” increasingly involves encouraging, pressing, or even requiring workers to get behind the company’s social justice mission. And it can spell trouble for employees who balk or publicly disagree…
The backlash has been almost immediate. Just last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a religious discrimination complaint against Kroger Co., the grocery chain, for firing two conservative Christian employees who refused to wear mandatory rainbow hearts on their work aprons in an Arkansas store because, they said, it constituted advocacy for LGBTQ causes. The women’s attorney, David Hogue, said he is representing about 10 other Kroger employees who are seeking a religious exemption from wearing the hearts on their smocks.
Also last month, President Trump issued an executive order banning racial and gender stereotyping in federal agencies and by federal contractors. What Trump had in mind wasn’t old-fashioned chauvinists and bigots – he was targeting racial-sensitivity workshops informed by a doctrine known as critical race theory.
“Many people are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual,” the executive order states. “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”
Trump was responding to news reports, based on leaked anti-racism training materials, describing how white federal workers were required to sit silently in discomfort while listening to black colleagues talk about their pain. In at least one session white males were asked to take responsibility for their heterosexual privilege and they were instructed that white male culture is associated with white supremacy and mass killings.
Trump’s order, which goes into effect Nov. 21, has wide reach. It applies to all federal contractors, which includes many universities, nonprofits and businesses.