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When The Man Tries to Tell You About Racism

Diversity training
February 20, 2021
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Ben Widit - Paraprofessional - Action MC

Is your boss reading Me and White Supremacy, White Fragility, or insert book about whiteness here? Have you had to sit through a meeting designed to promote diversity and inclusion on the job? Are you sick of spinning your wheels in struggle sessions and guilt parades with your boss? If you are genuinely interested in combating white supremacy and have ever felt a little off-put by these workplace diversity training, it's because they are mostly whack. 

The equity models proposed by management and “expert contractors” are always congruent with the oppressive economic order and cannot conceive of collective political action because their business model and profit is dependent on the continued reality of exploitation and poverty. The most damaging aspect of these pro-business equity programs is the way they stifle workers' imaginations by setting an intentionally low bar and deepen our despair by presenting no real alternative. It honestly takes a certain kind of insanity-inducing cognitive dissonance to be forced to sit through sanitized racial justice trainings by professional class liberals while a militant youth-led rebellion for a livable future rages on right outside our Zoom screens.

Fellow educators and I encountered many former and current students in the street at the end of May fighting for justice, and now our workplaces are bringing in so-called experts from everywhere but Minneapolis to introduce us to the ABC’s of identity and privilege. These paid hacks are not the leaders we should be turning to. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to bring in corporate equity companies, we as workers can educate ourselves by reading the history of this country, uncovering the numerous inspirational examples of revolutionary multiracial solidarity, and articulating visions of the future free from racism and capitalist exploitation.

What we are seeing in workplaces across the country is the mass marketing of diversity and equity training sessions that are created and implemented by the capitalist class as a way to outflank the revolutionary activist energy bubbling in the streets. When we are faced with compulsory work related social justice training and mandated professional development we have to ask ourselves: Who created (and funds) this program and what vision do they have for the future? It becomes clear that oftentimes these are explicitly capitalist programs that completely erase class consciousness and any notion of solidarity (which is especially ironic when we are literally at work and directly experiencing the reality of class power working against us). They also inadvertently work to exacerbate racial division by failing to highlight the socially constructed nature of race and our ability to self determine and work toward abolition. We need to keep developing a revolutionary abolitionist framework to hold the work of combating white supremacy and we need to uniformly reject any attempt by the owning class to co-opt the struggle and define the terms of engagement. 

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