Pushing back against the madness

I’m a bi-vocational pastor who works in the real world. In my own small way, I am fighting against the anti-racism madness sweeping our society. If you are tempted to believe I am one of those, “ain’t got no racism in there here country!” evangelicals who worship President Trump and have the GOP party platform sown into my bible between Malachi and Matthew, I direct you to my comments on racism and Jim Crow, and about the dangers of Christian nationalism.

Corporate and government human resources (“HR”) offices are prime movers behind the new religion of so-called anti-racism or critical race theory (“CRT”). This is a movement that’s captured the hearts and minds of the academy and the social science departments of colleges and universities. It may capture you, too. Here’s how it works:

  1. Employer watches the news and becomes worried.
  2. Employer decides it must be able to say it “did something” to combat racism.
  3. Employer turns to HR for answers. “Do some training, or something …”
  4. HR departments become desperate, then Google (or, perhaps, Bing) “diversity” and “racism training,” and forward random YouTube videos to employees to watch; sometimes watching is mandatory. There is often little attempt to vet the content to weigh the ideology and perspective of the video.
  5. HR also finds huckster trainers, many of whom drank from the same well as the YouTube videos. These huckster trainers have developed a cottage industry peddling a bastardized and popular form of critical race theory from “hot” authors like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Kendi.
  6. Employer can now say it “did something.”
  7. More employees are indoctrinated into a hot new religion many don’t like, don’t accept, and find extraordinarily offensive.
  8. Nobody says anything. The real problem goes unresolved in favor of a new religion that teaches people to hate themselves, their society, and live in perpetual outrage

I speak from experience. I am a government employee; a manager at a State agency. Just last month, our HR forwarded a video to every manager and suggested we watch it and share with our subordinates. The video was everything I expected; an earnest academic telling everyone they’re racists because they aren’t black. Our society is soaked in racism, the trainer assured me. It impacts us all. We’re so racist, we don’t even know we’re racist.

I see.

Well, I replied to the email and sent a response to every single manager and Deputy Commissioner in the entire agency. I did it because I will not be intimidated by this evil worldview. Here is what I wrote:


It’s unclear where the line is between indoctrination and education, here. When employees are encouraged to watch a video whose thesis is that Americans (implicitly, white Americans) are all unconscious racists with associated unconscious bias, then it makes folks raise an eyebrow or two. Add to it, Professor Eberhardt’s faculty profile from Stanford University reveals she has a very particular thesis to push:

Through interdisciplinary collaborations and a wide ranging array of methods—from laboratory studies to novel field experiments—Eberhardt has revealed the startling, and often dispiriting, extent to which racial imagery and judgments suffuse our culture and society, and in particular shape actions and outcomes within the domain of criminal justice.

This thesis plays out in her comments in the video:

  • 1:37: “We are living with such severe racial stratification that even a five-year-old can tell us what’s supposed to happen next, even with no evildoer, even with no explicit hatred. This association between blackness and crime made its way into the mind of my five-year-old. It makes its way into all of our children, into all of us. Our minds are shaped by the racial disparities we see out in the world and the narratives that help us to make sense of the disparities we see …”
  • 13:06: “We know that the brain is wired for bias, and one way to interrupt that bias is to pause and to reflect on the evidence of our assumptions.”

Some people are racists. I’ve met people like that. However, Professor Eberhardt believes the very nature of American society is so “suffuse[d]” with racism that it is in “all of us,” even unconsciously. That’s a rather sweeping statement about a country that has had:

  1. an African-American President who was elected twice, winning the popular vote each time,
  2. an African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later Secretary of State, and
  3. has appointed two African-Americans to the Supreme Court, one of whom was Thurgood Marshall; a key architect and leader of the NAACPs successful strategy to put a stake into the heart of the Jim Crow laws.

I note that Professor Eberhardt, an African-American herself, holds an earned PhD from Harvard, is a former faculty member at Yale, and now teaches at Stanford. She has done well for herself; and good for her.

However, Professor Eberhardt impugns the integrity of every American (and every agency employee) of any ethnicity or creed, because she claims we’re all unconsciously racist. This is beyond the pale.

I look forward to future recommendations on the important issue of race relations. I can only hope they do not follow the same theme of “if you’re white, then you’re an unconscious racist and I can help you change.” This is a critical topic, as the [agency head’s name] recent communications have made clear. Perhaps it would be best to not begin by unwittingly impugning the hearts and minds of co-workers because of … their white skin color.


I got away with this for at least three reasons:

  1. I have a good reputation at my agency as a calm, intelligent, serious person. At least … I think I do!
  2. The email was polite, factual, and acknowledged that racism is an issue in American society.
  3. Every manager and Deputy Commissioner at the agency knows I’m an evangelical Baptist pastor.

Christians must not be turtles, hiding in their shells. We shouldn’t be scared kittens, peeking out from under the couch. We can have a voice. We must have a voice. Don’t be driven from the public square.

Note: on 04 September 2020, after I published this article, President Trump directed federal agencies to “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” This is likely an attempt to curry favor with his base of support. Still, it is a welcome development.

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Joel Shaffer's picture

NOTE: on 04 September 2020, after I published this article, President Trump directed federal agencies(link is external) to “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” This is likely an attempt to curry favor with his base of support. Still, it is a welcome development.

There is enough research out there now that empirically demonstrates that the current anti-racism workshops (coming from populist CRT) don't lead to better relations and don't lead to long-term change   https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27454041/ and actually causes people to have less sympathy for poor white folks and it did little to create any sympathy for blacks.   https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_when_you_educate_liberals_about_white_privilege

IMO, when Trump made the cease and desist executive order, he should've done it from the empirical evidence angle, rather than the dog-whistle identity politics angle.   

Hopefully Yancey's research and model of Mutual Responsibility will begin to get some traction. His book, "Beyond Racial Gridlock" https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Racial-Gridlock-Embracing-Responsibility/dp/0830833765 is the best book out there on how to improve race relations. And since the populist CRT models such as "White Fragility" have been peddled as the only alternative, Yancey has shifted his research and writing interests from Christianophobia back to race relations to offer the needed better alternative.  Here is his critique of "White Fragility," which I found quite helpful.  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/shatteringparadigms/2020/07/not-white-fragility-mutual-responsibility/?fbclid=IwAR1fEB4JUqQehRdZXRQbQmsAx5AcZ-fnvcJoYPu8brBkr8TxBxjN9HdBgcw

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Tyler,

It's good to see some reasoned push back on this.  I have to take "training" every year on bias, tolerance, etc.  So far, it hasn't included the ideas that America itself is irredeemably racist, or that all white Americans are racist, etc., though I haven't seen this year's version of the training yet.  My company has gone back and forth between U.S. and foreign ownership, but is now based in the U.S. again (for some years it was in Asia).  It will be interesting to see what comes, given our CEO and many of our management are non-U.S.

Our company is fairly large, and I'm a small cog in the wheel, so I don't have the standing you do, but I'm wondering how I will respond if our yearly training on this subject turns into indoctrination.

Dave Barnhart

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I don't see it as a positive development. Though critical race theory, the 1619 revisionism, etc., are harmful to our culture, when someone like Donald Trump tries to silence them they only become more attractive, culturally speaking. Part of what happens is that more credible (as in, people who can actually make a cogent argument) critics of these ideologies, include many in the political center and center left, no longer want to speak out against them because once Trump speaks out on it, it become's Trump's position, and large numbers of them don't want to be associated with that (myself among them).

So the less he talks and acts in response to these ideas, the better, really. The realm of ideas is simply not his place. Fish out of water.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know if this is the particular program Tyler is referring to, but the DOJ suggests that segregating employees by race for training is illegal.  See here.

You would also have the philosophical reality of falsifiability; if you can't disprove a hypothesis, it is by definition false.  It seems that at least at the fringes, a lot of advocates of critical race theory fall into that trap.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

Advice for the secular workforce ... "be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16):

  • You're advised to do your very best for the company and not be a slacker
  • Witnessing on 'company time' or being on social media on 'company time' will probably be viewed as 'being a slacker'
  • Navigating 'diversity' training is like sailing through shoals in rough seas
Jim's picture

Advice for the secular workforce ... "be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16):

  • You're advised to do your very best for the company and not be a slacker
  • Witnessing on 'company time' or being on social media on 'company time' will probably be viewed as 'being a slacker'
  • Navigating 'diversity' training is like sailing through shoals in rough seas
Jim's picture

Advice for the secular workforce ... "be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16):

  • You're advised to do your very best for the company and not be a slacker
  • Witnessing on 'company time' or being on social media on 'company time' will probably be viewed as 'being a slacker'
  • Navigating 'diversity' training is like sailing through shoals in rough seas
TylerR's picture

Editor

Behold this Twitter thread. This is from a woke parody account. It is not from someone who actually believes this. The account poses as an outraged, woke leftist activist and regularly posts absurd things that don't seem absurd anymore in 2020. Reality has, to some extent, destroyed satire.
 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I haven't had horrendous times as others have, but it strikes me that those who do may be confronted with a nasty choice because some of the logic inherent in bad diversity training might also result in bad logic elsewhere--I would say the same thing about certain theological positions like KJVO.  You can stay and endure the consequences of a weaponized "woke" culture (which could include bankruptcy and a huge drop in your employability by those who see what happened), or you can leave, often for a job with less responsibility and/or pay.

(and on the light side; Jim, you can say/write that again!)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I must also add that I'm a civil service employee in my state's management system, and can't be fired at will by my employer. Other managers are exempt, and have no such protections. I could be fired, of course. It would just take more work and due process.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim Welch's picture

Your point is well taken.  If Trump is for "IT", "IT" must be wrong, bad, ungodly, unholy, etc.  hmmmm  Therefore, whatever Trump does or says should be dismissed.  Logic like that seems to be just as dangerous as the logic that says that everything Trump does or says is good and godly.  

Are you really saying that you will no longer speak out against certain evils because Trump has spoken out on them?  

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