The Walt Disney Corporation has apparently gone full “woke” in its training materials for employees, accepting systemic racism as a fact that must be reckoned with.
Journalist Christopher Rufo obtained Walt Disney training documents focusing on diversity, which insist America was founded on “systemic racism” and tell employees to reject “equality” in favor of “equity,” or, the “equality of outcomes.”
“According to a trove of whistleblower materials, Disney has launched a ‘diversity and inclusion’ program, called ‘Reimagine Tomorrow,’ which includes trainings on ‘systemic racism,’ ‘white privilege,’ ‘white fragility,’ ‘white saviors,’ ‘microaggressions,’ and ‘antiracism,’” Rufo wrote on Twitter.
The documents include a section that explains the U.S. has “a long history of systemic racism and transphobia,” telling employees that “If you are feeling confused, shocked, or have recently awakened to systemic racism, recognize that this is probably not new to your Black/African American colleagues.”
“Avoid messages like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” the training continues. “The murders of Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Rayshard Brooks, Adame Traore and countless others are part of a long history of systemic racism and transphobia. In solidarity with U.S. protests, we are seeing similar protests due to police brutality targeted to Black people around the world. The current unrest represents a tipping point and heightened awareness of the movement.”
Another section in the training explains to employees that “Deepening your insight and knowledge is a critical first step to understanding the magnitude and complexity of the current state and building empathy to authentically connect with your colleagues.” The section includes two bullet points for how white employees should educate themselves about systemic racism.
“Take ownership of educating yourself about structural anti-Black racism in the current and historical context. Opt for sources from Black authors, journalists and organizations,” says the first bullet point, directing employees to a list of resources elsewhere in the documents. “Do not rely on your Black colleagues to educate you,” reads the second bullet point. “This is emotionally taxing.”
Further, white employees at Disney are asked questions like, “How can you effect change in your sphere of influence?” and “Is there an opportunity to share your learning with other allies?” They are then told to:
- Reflect on the diversity of your personal and professional networks and how racial and other dimensions of your identity give (or do not give) you access and advantage. Proximity to Black people or being part of a marginalized group does not mean you cannot harbor bias.
- Acknowledge your emotional reactions in this process, the source(s) of discomfort, and productive ways to address it. Examine and work through feelings of guilt, shame and defensiveness to understand what is beneath them and what needs to be healed.
- Recognize your colleagues are also processing the ways in which the pandemic is disproportionately affecting the Black community.
White employees are also told:
- Do not question or debate Black colleagues’ lived experience. For example, “are you sure they meant it that way?” “It’s not a race thing,” or “I’m playing devil’s advocate…” Instead, reserve judgement and offer statements of validation if someone shares their experience.
- Acknowledge and listen with empathy when Black colleagues share their lived experiences. Avoid saying, “I feel you,” “I have been there,” and instead say “I hear you,” “Tell me more about what that felt like.”
- Avoid conflating the Black experience with other communities of color. While other people of color are subject to racism, there is a unique history that has led to anti-Black racism and the ways in which that shows up.
In a section titled “Looking Forward: Equity, Not Equality,” Disney tells employees that while “Equality is a noble goal,” we should really “be striving for equity, where we focus on the equality of the outcome, not the equality of the experience by taking individual needs and skills into account.”
As Rufo reported, Disney also sponsored a “21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge,” which told participants they have “all been raised in a society that elevates white culture over others.” Participants are then asked to complete a “white privilege checklist,” which includes “I am white,” “I am heterosexual,” “I am a man,” “I still identity as the gender I was born in,” “I have never been raped,” “I work in a salaried job,” “I don’t rely on public transportation,” and “I have never been called a terrorist.” Other selections include: “I graduated high school,” “My parents are both alive,” and “I’ve used prescription drugs recreationally.”
Finally, Rufo reported, Participants in the challenge were told they must “pivot” from “white dominant culture” to “something different.” Like many other so-called anti-racism training materials, the documents from Disney insist that “competition,” “individualism,” “timeliness,” and “comprehensiveness,” are values that “perpetuate white supremacy culture.”
In order to combat this culture, Disney suggests employees read a guide called “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” which recommends white people “defund the police,” “participate in reparations,” and “decolonize your bookshelf,” meaning, add more books from non-white authors.
And, as with so many trainings claiming to be “anti-racist,” Disney has launched “affinity groups,” which segregate people by race and tell white people they are responsible for the ills of society.