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Decision-makers are obsessed with a word, a word that determines the way they see each individual, a word that, by design, further divides our country. The word is “race.”
On her Substack, Bari Weiss disclosed that she has been receiving daily phone calls from anxious Americans complaining about the liberal ideologies found in the workplace and on college campuses that are pulling the country into the past. Most of the callers requested anonymity, fearful of their jobs. I don’t blame any of them, sadly. Yet at the same time, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the one who did put her name on it, the one willing to risk her future in corporate America to pull back the curtain to attempt to make the country a better place.
Jodi Shaw was a staffer at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She was making $45,000 a year, which is less than the school’s yearly tuition. She was publicly shamed and punished for her white skin color. She was told race trumped all at Smith College. She had enough, and she resigned this week.
Shaw’s decision didn’t come easy. She’s divorced, has two children, and didn’t make much money to begin with. By October 2020, Shaw felt that she had exhausted all her internal options, thus she posted a YouTube video to “blow the whistle” on her employer’s atmosphere of racial discrimination.
“I ask that Smith College stop reducing my personhood to a racial category. Stop telling me what I must think and feel about myself,” she said. “Stop presuming to know who I am or what my culture is based upon my skin color. Stop asking me to project stereotypes and assumptions onto others based on their skin color.”
Seems fair. Here’s Shaw’s full video, it’s worth watching:
While the video affirmed what many Americans already believe about college campuses, it didn’t change the way Smith College viewed its students and employees.
As a result, Shaw resigned on Friday. That takes guts, and the next part takes even more: Shaw turned down a settlement to shut up about what went on at Smith College. Shaw rejected the money and is speaking out, trying to save others from going through what she had to.
“Dear President [Kathleen] McCartney,” Shaw begins his resignation letter, “I am writing to notify you that effective today, I am resigning from my position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life at Smith College. This has not been an easy decision, as I now face a deeply uncertain future. As a divorced mother of two, the economic uncertainty brought about by this resignation will impact my children as well. But I have no choice. The racially hostile environment that the college has subjected me to for the past two and a half years has left me physically and mentally debilitated. I can no longer work in this environment, nor can I remain silent about a matter so central to basic human dignity and freedom.”
Shaw said in the letter that the pivot toward — in my words — racial obsession began in July 2018, when a black student baselessly accused a white staff member of calling campus security on her because of racial bias.
“Before even investigating the facts of the incident,” she continues, “the college immediately issued a public apology to the student, placed the employee on leave, and announced its intention to create new initiatives, committees, workshops, training, and policies aimed at combating ‘systemic racism’ on campus.
“In spite of an independent investigation into the incident that found no evidence of racial bias, the college ramped up its initiatives aimed at dismantling the supposed racism that pervades the campus. This only served to support the now prevailing narrative that the incident had been racially motivated and that Smith staff are racist.”
Without any proof that the incident was racially motivated, the whole staff was deemed racist, the staffer was put on leave, and white staffers not involved in the matter were later punished.
Punished for just being white at Smith College? Yes. Shaw explains:
“For example, in August 2018, just days before I was to present a library orientation program into which I had poured a tremendous amount of time and effort, and which had previously been approved by my supervisors, I was told that I could not proceed with the planned program. Because it was going to be done in rap form and ‘because you are white,’ as my supervisor told me, that could be viewed as ‘cultural appropriation.’ My supervisor made clear he did not object to a rap in general, nor to the idea of using music to convey orientation information to students. The problem was my skin color.
“I was up for a full-time position in the library at that time, and I was essentially informed that my candidacy for that position was dependent upon my ability, in a matter of days, to reinvent a program to which I had devoted months of time.”
Shaw then moved to Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life, a lower-paying job. Less pay, but the same amount of racial obsession.
In her new role, Shaw was told on multiple occasions that discussing her personal thoughts and feelings about her skin color were requirements of the job. (Whatever happened to job experience and skill-sets as the job requirements?)
“I endured racially hostile comments, and was expected to participate in racially prejudicial behavior as a continued condition of my employment,” Shaw explained. “I endured meetings in which another staff member violently banged his fist on the table, chanting ‘Rich, white women! Rich, white women!’ in reference to Smith alumnae.
“I listened to my supervisor openly name preferred racial quotas for job openings in our department. I was given supplemental literature in which the world’s population was reduced to two categories — ‘dominant group members’ and ‘subordinated group members’ — based solely on characteristics like race.”
What an awful place to work. Unfortunately, there is a push to have the same requirements installed across various workplaces.
“Every day, I watch my colleagues manage student conflict through the lens of race, projecting rigid assumptions and stereotypes on students, thereby reducing them to the color of their skin,” Shaw goes on. “I am asked to do the same, as well as to support a curriculum for students that teaches them to project those same stereotypes and assumptions onto themselves and others. I believe such a curriculum is dehumanizing, prevents authentic connection, and undermines the moral agency of young people who are just beginning to find their way in the world.”
It only got worse from there. During a Residence Life staff retreat in January 2020, each staff member was told they had to respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity. Shaw objected and objected publicly. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that,” she responded when it was her turn.
The facilitators responded by telling everyone present in the room that a white person’s discomfort at discussing her race is a symptom of, wait for it, “white fragility.”
“They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress, but that it is actually a ‘power play.’ In other words, because I am white, my genuine discomfort was framed as an act of aggression. I was shamed and humiliated in front of all of my colleagues.”
Shaw filed an internal complaint about the hostile environment, but no one cared. It didn’t matter. Why? Because of her skin color, why else?
“I was told that the civil rights law protections were not created to help people like me. And after I filed my complaint, I started to experience retaliatory behavior, like having important aspects of my job taken away without explanation.”
This situation is deeply troubling, and it’s the exact environment that should be punished, not promoted. I’ve said on many occasions that I have a grave fear that Americans are losing the ability to see other Americans as individuals. Instead, we are seen only by our skin colors. The worst part is that most influential outlets and figures are pushing for more of that, not less.
There are only two ways to stop this movement: One, by individuals like Shaw risking their reputations by speaking out, providing facts, and not accepting what is clearly wrong. And two, independent entrepreneurs refusing to implement these rules, and more importantly, hiring those who have risked their careers fighting back. In an ideal world, and the country is far from ideal, Jodi Shaw would have a landing spot and soon.