After a Smith College student claimed she was victim of a racial bias incident—a claim rejected by a legal investigation—the college did not bother to support the low-level Smith employees who had been accused of racism.
Although the legal investigation indicated that the low-level workers had been falsely accused, they were asked to apologize, put on leave, and hounded by the media. Smith made no attempt to support them. The New York Times (of all places!) blew the whistle on Smith’s class-biased wokeism in a story headlined “Inside the Battle over Race, Class, and Power at Smith.”
Now, 44 black intellectuals, outraged by what happened to the Smith employees, who seem to have been so cruelly used by the administration to bolster their own woke credentials, have written a blistering letter about the college’s treatment of these employees. It is addressed to Smith President Kathleen McCartney.
Bob Woodson, the redoubtable head of 1776 Unites, organized the letter to McCartney, which was signed by, among others, Pulitzer Prize winner Clarence Page, filmmaker Eli Steele, Professor Carol Swain, emerita Vanderbilt professor John McWhorter, Shelby Steel, and Brown University maverick Glenn Loury.
It is a terrific, hard-hitting letter, and it dares to say what is all too often missing from most discussions: that wokeism is often just another way for self-righteous elites to (forgive the word) oppress ordinary people. Here is some of what they said:
Before investigating the facts, Smith College assumed that every one of the people who prepare its food and clean its facilities was guilty of the vile sin of racism and forced them to publicly “cleanse” themselves through a series of humiliating exercises in order to keep their jobs. When an investigation of the precipitating incident revealed no evidence of bias, Smith College offered no public apology to the falsely accused and merely doubled down on the shaming of its most vulnerable employees.
Many of us participated in the Civil Rights Movement, fighting for equal treatment under the law, which included due process and the presumption of innocence. We didn’t march so that Americans of any race could be presumed guilty and punished for false accusations while the elite institution that employed them cowered in fear of a social media mob. We certainly didn’t march so that privileged Blacks could abuse working class whites based on “lived experience.”
The letter also addressed the anti-racist (supposedly) training which employees of elite institutions are often required to take.
Please consider that many Black Americans find training that reduces us simply to a racial category profoundly condescending and dehumanizing. Not only do such activities often increase racial animosity rather than reduce it, but they also deeply harm students of color by teaching them to process every one of life’s difficulties through the lens of race. Elite institutions like Smith should be teaching all their students to work through misunderstandings and offenses with the very grace you ask for in your letters, not punishing its least powerful employees in order to virtue signal.
Imagine an institution that responded to an allegation of theft by a Black employee by searching the pockets of all its Black employees before they left the workplace. Then after an investigation showed that the employee in question had not actually stolen anything, the institution only increased the frequency and invasiveness of the searches. Such treatment would rightly be condemned as racist. Yet that is exactly what Smith College has done to its service workers.
Jodi Shaw, a Smith alum, is by rights a member of the educated elite—she is, after all, a Smithie. Shaw, who is white, in the wake of the incident which caused so much pain for Black Smith employees, was also required to undergo anti-racist training sessions as part of her job at her alma mater. Shaw, who is profiled in IWF’s Champion Women series, also felt dehumanized by the emphasis on race. You can read her story here.
Kudos to the intellectuals led by Woodson and Jodi Shaw—together they are helping get out the truth about anti-racist training—that instead of bringing us together, it dehumanizes all of us, robbing us of our agency and individuality.
It is also a plaything of the elites.