While protestors occupied the East Precinct in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle and declared the autonomous “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone, the City of Seattle held a racially segregated employee training targeting white city staff and instructed them to “undo your own whiteness.”
Karlyn Borysenko, an organizational psychologist and “accidental political commentator,” was one of the first to break the story after she received an internal email from a City of Seattle employee about the training. That employee is now leaving.
Christopher F. Rufo, the editor of City Journal and the director of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, completed a public records request to gather further information.
On his website, he wrote, “I acquired the following documents through a public records request. The first document explains ‘Internalized Racial Superiority’ and how white people complicity reinforces racist systems. The second document, ‘Interrupting Whiteness’ explains how to interrupt one’s whiteness and eventually become a ‘white accomplice.’ The third document, ‘Assimilation into Whiteness’ explains that anyone of Jewish, Armenian, Arab, and Irish descent is now defined as white.”
He highlights some of the more problematic elements of the training materials in a long Twitter thread.
In one post, he stated, “First, diversity trainers informed white participants that ‘objectivity,’ ‘individualism,’ ‘intellectualization,’ and ‘comfort’ are all vestiges of internalized racial oppression.”
According to the materials obtained by Rufo, if white employees speak too much then they’re showing “racial superiority of ‘imposition’ or ‘paternalism.’” But if they speak too little, that’s also oppression “because ‘silence’ is ‘violence.’”
This training occurred over a previously scheduled vacation day, which upset many employees.
A City of Seattle internal email about the training stated, “Tomorrow, many City employees will be using paid or unpaid leave to take a day of reflection and action. We’re inviting City employees who identify as white to join this training and learn, reflect, challenge ourselves and build skills and relationships that help us show up more fully as allies and accomplices for racial justice. We’ll examine our complicity in the system of white supremacy—how we internalize and reinforce it—and begin to cultivate practices that enable us to interrupt racism in ways that are accountable to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) folks within our community, including our fathers and colleagues at the City.”
Seattle also defined “white” for its staff members. In a handout, Rufo reveals, “In case some people are wondering if they’re ‘really white,’ they pass out a datasheet called “Assimilation into Whiteness.’ Are you of Arab, Jewish, Finnish, German, Italian, Armenian, or Irish descent? You’re definitely white. No getting out of this.”
The City of Seattle has yet to respond to a request from The Daily Citizen for comment.
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