Rantz: Seattle city training docs teach white people are racist ‘oppressors,’ Black people are victims
The City of Seattle invited employees to explore their own internalized racism in a training session that excluded white people. For white staff, they were taught that they are responsible for racism.
Employees “who identify as people of color” were invited to the three-hour “Internalized Racial Inferiority” training on Sept. 3. It was conducted by the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI). The staffers were given tools to free themselves of white supremacy influence. In the end, they are expected to dismantle systems of oppression.
The companion training, “Internalized Racial Superiority,” offers a look at how “whiteness” gets in the way of people of color. It tells white staff they are “responsible” for racism and endorses the concept of “interrupting whiteness.” They should give up on “guaranteed physical safety” to be “accomplices” in creating an anti-racist society. Only then can they “eliminate racism and create racial equity, justice and liberation.”
The goal of the training is to create an army of “anti-racist” staff. But it also aims to transform what should be apolitical governmental agencies into ideological agents of social change.
Seattle targets racial minorities it believes hate themselves
In late August, an invite to the training on racial inferiority was given to city employees. It was optional.
The event training page said employees would explore “the process which American conditioning, socialization and history leads People of Color to internalize racialized beliefs, ideas and behaviors about themselves, undergirding the power of White Supremacy.”
At the time the training invite was distributed by the city, many Black employees — especially within the Seattle Police Department — were outraged. Now, thanks to a public disclosure request by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, we have a better look at the training materials.
Non-white staff learned that there are four types of racism: interpersonal, institutional, structural, and internalized. The training focused on the self-hate form of racism, which the training blames on white people.
Internal racial inferiority develops when the staff of color accepts and acts out of “an inferior definition of self” that is “given by the oppressor.”
The training says this “is rooted in the historical designation of one’s race.”
The training claims that those suffering from racial inferiority engage in “self-defeating behaviors.” They include assimilating into white culture. It causes them to engage in colorism, the discrimination against people with darker skin than them.
Often, they feel shame, self-doubt, self-hate, and rage. They’re even in denial if they don’t realize they live in a culture centered around whiteness.
Blame white people for … everything
If you suffer from internalized racial inferiority, it’s not your fault. City training says “white people keep the system going.”
In “Internalized Racial Superiority,” white people are taught that ego and mindset justify their belief that they “have been wronged by POC [people of color].” By supporting and embracing “individualism,” “perfectionism,” and “intellectualization,” white people are sending a message that they are superior.
White staff learns that their “anger, self-righteousness and defensiveness mask fear, shame and guilt for the harm of our actions.”
Consequently, they are “unable to see opportunities to contribute as allies/accomplices” for people of color.
White people are ‘responsible’ for racism
White staff members are encouraged to interrupt their whiteness with several action steps to help people of color.
They’re told to “[be] clear about who we are in the world” and embrace their “purpose as racial justice advocates and organizers.” But that can only start with “practicing self-talk that affirms our complicity in racism: Racism is not our fault but we are responsible.”
The training recommends creating an echo chamber of “networks of other white people who are practicing antiracism accomplicehood.” They must be willing to “[let] go of the things we have to give up to be accomplices, such as, … at times, guaranteed physical safety.”
They must also be ready to call out people who disagree with your anti-racist work. According to the training:
Practice naming things that are harmful without blaming the person. If the person still doesn’t want to hear it, say that: “I feel like I’ve shared my experience of you/my observations of the situation several times now and you’re not open to hearing it. I hope that at some point in the future we can have this conversation and that you’ll be open to understanding some of the ways that you perpetuated harm.”
The training is designed to be an intense, eye-opening experience. Staff is told that “this is a space where we can shed our ‘white tears.'”
Training says Jews reap benefits of whiteness
A considerable portion of the training relies on the trainer’s belief that historically marginalized groups were victims of assimilation in the United States. The section on Jews is revealing and, ironically, leans into anti-Semitic tropes.
Staff learns that the United States rejected “boat loads [sic] of primarily Ashkenazi Jewish children seeking refuge from concentration camps, sending them back to their deaths.” But after World War II, Jews were able to earn the benefits of white people.
“Ashkenazi Jews and light-skinned Sephardic Jews were slowly able to assimilate into whiteness, achieving recognition as ‘white’ people and receiving the same benefits of life outcomes as other white ethnic groups,” according to the training.
In other words, Jews didn’t earn any “benefits” but were given them due to assimilating into whiteness. And if you think that Jews are minorities (which we are), you agree with a bigot.
“The racial status of Jews has continued to engender debate, with some commentators, and far-right leaders such as David Duke, arguing that all Jews are people of color,” the training says.
The training is part of a bigger goal
The training, which has been under development and constant tweaking since July 2018, aims to be ongoing. The goal of the RSJI is to dismantle systems of oppression and rebuild them through a social justice lens. Its stated purpose is to be solely “accountable to communities of color.”
To meet its 2021 goals, the RSJI aims to create an “anti-racist network within City government.” That starts with this training. The white staff must accept their responsibility for racism. Then, they must help coworkers of color escape from “white supremacy culture.”
After the training, the RSJI promises to “transform the internal government culture of the City toward one rooted in racial justice.” But for the city to be free of “the norms and patterns of white supremacy culture,” it “requires reckoning with the impacts of internalized racism and implicit bias.”
Creating an army of social justice warriors
According to the RSJI, there are 10 “truths” that must be accepted.
The department argues that colonialism is at the root of white supremacy. It believes that “government is established through colonialism and has created and continues to maintain racism.”
It says that government has the “responsibility” to adopt left-wing anti-racist views. RSJI believes city employees should “understand, challenge and work to dismantle racism and replace it with an anti-racist reality in which we all can thrive.”
The training isn’t about creating better employees; it’s about creating an army of progressive social justice activists. And residents are paying for it.
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