Jodi Shaw, the Smith College employee shamed for whiteness, is interviewed at Quillette and issues a new video about discrimination

November 10, 2020 • 12:15 pm

I’ve put up two posts (part 1 and part 2 ) about Jodi Shaw, an employee of Smith College who works as a student support coordinator specializing in “Residence Life”. Shaw had a beef with the College for forcing her to undergo mandatory training in what seems like critical race theory, and in which she was humiliated by the facilitator for her “white fragility”. Kathleen McCartney, the President of Smith, then responded to Shaw’s first video with a cold-hearted letter to the entire College saying, in effect, something like, “Well, we can’t fire Shaw because of the law, but we’ll ensure that all students of color are protected from harm.”

When I commented that I highly doubt that there is “systemic racism” at Smith, one reader did some Googling and managed to find one incident in which a black Smith student, Oumou Kanote, complained about being racially profiled for eating lunch in the cafeteria and resting on a couch. Our reader even cited Kanoute’s own account, given at at the ACLU, as evidence that “students of color at Smith can and have been made to feel unwelcome.”

Sadly, that claim is not true, and does not constitute any evidence for racism at Smith.

I did some digging and found out that Kanote’s report of racial profiling did not stand up, even with Smith College’s own internal investigation and their production of a 100-page report. The person who called the cops didn’t even give her race, and the whole episode should have been written off as a misunderstanding—largely by Kanoute. You can click on the two articles below from the Boston Globe and Inside Higher Ed to see why this wasn’t a case of racism.

Nevertheless, as Shaw argues in the 45-minute Quillette podcast below, Kanoute won’t give up claiming that she was the victim of racial bias—even after Smith said, no, that didn’t happen—nor does Smith or its president want to let go of that incident either, still trying to pretend that there’s some invisible systemic racism floating around.

It’s almost as if Smith wants there to be systemic racism at the College, so they can flaunt their virtue by opposing it. I haven’t been able to find any other incidents besides Kanoute’s discredited claims, except for some swastikas painted on Smith buildings two years ago. That incident, however, didn’t receive near the attention that Kanoute’s claims did, was largely dismissed by Smith’s President, and, of course, Smith students aren’t told that their college has “systemic anti-Semitism”—nor do they receive anti-anti-Semitism training. After all, swastikas aren’t nearly as much of a threat as a bogus claim of racism.

In her podcast below, Shaw says that Smith’s failure to correct the record about Kanoute’s claims, even after an extensive investigation found them baseless, is “one of the biggest moral failings I’ve ever been privy to in my life.”

I’m putting up this series from time to time because it’s so rare that someone like Shaw not only reveals the kind of draconian brainwashing students are subject to, but pushes back against it. She is, of course, toast: she’ll be demonized at Smith and her life made miserable, all because she doesn’t want to be denigrated for being white. I pity her but also admire her bravery.

Up to 31 minutes into this podcast, you’ll hear about the Kanoute case and Smith’s failure to address its own investigation, and then, after that Shaw repeats her story about “professional development training,” which you might have heard before.

Click on the screenshot to hear her:

In the video below, which I haven’t posted, Shaw addresses and responds to President McCartney’s open letter about her first video. It’s a calm and reasonable response to the letter, but doesn’t beat around the bush, either.  The sad part is this: Shaw is under the impression that her video will inspire some kind of “dialogue” with President McCartney or the Smith administration about “equity and inclusion”—not just for students, but for staff, and for everyone, including dissenters like Shaw who are exercising freedom of speech. If Shaw really believes that she’s going to initiate a dialogue, she’s deluded: what Smith wants is for her to shut up and find another job—if she can. Smith is not going to rethink its policies no matter how many videos Shaw makes (here’s another new one about other incidents that, says Shaw, shows discrimination against her).

If Shaw is right—and she says that other people agree with her, but are afraid to speak up (a reasonable assertion)—Smith is going bonkers about race and yet there is no racism in evidence there.

I’ll continue to listen to her videos and report on any worth mentioning. The alternative hypothesis is that Shaw is aggrieved but unhinged, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence for that. My only issue is that her videos are twice as long as they need to be. I can excuse that, though.


17 thoughts on “Jodi Shaw, the Smith College employee shamed for whiteness, is interviewed at Quillette and issues a new video about discrimination

  1. It’s almost as if Smith wants there to be systemic racism at the College, so they can flaunt their virtue by opposing it.

    I greatly dislike Betsy DeVos and hope the door doesn’t hit her on the way out. However, if there is just one good thing she did for the Dept. of Ed, it is probably having DoEd respond to such public mea culpas with an “O really? Tell us more about how you’re violating the law.”

  2. I was a little worried about Jodi Shaw being a little unhinged after one of the earlier posts in which she mentioned her 100 page complaint to Smith College. Having seen how an even longer report into what transpired to be a non-incident was effectively ignored by Smith’s leadership, and learning more about the ridiculous situation at the college that provoked her into speaking out, I can only salute her brevity.

    Although the videos are indeed longer than strictly necessary, as PCC(E) noted that is understandable given the circumstances. Shaw is the sane one here; and whilst President Kathleen McCartney is unlikely to respond to her I know which of the two should retain their position at Smith.

  3. The likes of Thomas “Serious Inquiries Only” Smith, Peter “Humanisticus” Ferguson, and other regressive deniers of reality will be along any second to tell everybody this is all a “hoax”, and none of it happened.

  4. “It’s almost as if Smith wants there to be systemic racism at the College, so they can flaunt their virtue by opposing it.” I have to quibble with this assertion: I think the “almost” is incorrect.
    But there is something at work beyond the
    virtue-flaunting of President McCartney et.
    al. There is now an entire social stratum whose salaries and status depend on the endless hunt for signs, portents, auguries, and spectral traces of “systemic racism”.
    If we were Marxists, like Milovan Djilas, we would understand this new administrative
    layer as a New Class, inevitably and always acting in its own class interest.

  5. Ms. Shaw posted this today in her Facebook page. If you use Facebook, think of adding he as a friend.

    “Jodi Shaw
    u3e5tnSponseomred ·
    Smith College expects me to “factor race into decision-making” as a continued condition of my employment. It is impossible for me to do such a thing without causing more division and racial tension.
    “As I understand the state’s history, the country’s history, and the world’s history, government officials cannot be trusted to factor race into decision making without treating people unjustly, and intergroup stigmas and resentments tend to increase when any group is given preferential treatment.” Conor Friedersdorf
    , on California’s Proposition 16, voted down by a state in which there is no racial majority group.”

    1. That seems a bit over the top.

      Look, if my boss told me to factor race in to my decision making, I’d likely start by thinking about my stakeholders and whether my communications with them are completely professional or whether I’m letting some casual vernacular in. If the latter (which is very likely, none of us are ‘on point’ 100% of the time), I’m going to think about how I can better communicate my decisions and reasoning so as to better bring my stakeholders along with it rather than ruffle their feathers. And I’ll think about if I’m being too casual with my co-workers, and if so, how I can change that to make my workplace more inviting for everyone.

      …then I move on with my life. Sans any formal complaint.

      That’s a bit of a nitpick though. I still support her general message. Facilitators coercing you to reveal personal information about your childhood to your co-workers is particularly egregious.

  6. The Chief Equity Officer of the University of Washington School of Medicine (who is not
    surprisingly an Ed. D., rather than any kind of medical scholar) sent around the following inspirational message today.

    “Race-based caucuses and affinity groups help organizations advance equity, diversity and inclusion goals by providing a formal resource for staff and leaders to acknowledge, discuss and dismantle oppressive systems from within by starting with the difficult conversations. For individual colleagues, these groups can provide:

    A supportive and protected space for members of marginalized groups — in this case, Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) — to discuss issues affecting them, without the need to educate or explain to the privileged group (white colleagues) or mitigate “white fragility”;
    An opportunity for marginalized groups and the privileged group to stand in their own identities and experiences to explore the intersections of race, power and privilege;
    A space for community strengthening and education from within the group without external influence;
    Encouragement for the privileged group to educate themselves and stand in their discomfort, rather than burdening the marginalized group by expecting to be educated by them about oppression; and
    A space that allows those who want to stand in solidarity with marginalized groups to recognize how to move from being motivated by shame and guilt, and to recognize and thoughtfully use their power and privilege.

    In wanting to promptly respond to the requests last week to hold the gatherings, and having sent out previous communications explaining them, we made the mistake of using the term “affinity group” to refer to the white group, which to many indicated that we were condoning white-only spaces in our predominantly white organization, thereby perpetuating the systemic racism that we are committed to dismantling. While I, my team and those who have participated in the white group understand the intended purpose and structure, we overlooked that many other members of our community do not. For this lapse and harm caused, we sincerely apologize.

    To be clear, the groups for BIPOC colleagues are structured to be protected and supportive spaces for discussion, grieving and healing as needed. The feedback we have received thus far affirms that this has been the case for those in attendance.

    The white group is a place for those colleagues who want to stand in solidarity with and support our BIPOC colleagues, by doing their own personal work and fostering systemic change. These groups have allowed for those participating to have hard conversations and gain understanding of their part in perpetuating racism, while focusing on their role in advancing our equity work.”

  7. Sadly, that claim is not true, and does not constitute any evidence for racism at Smith.

    I know this is not what you meant when you wrote “sadly” but I think it is indicative of the problem that there will be people that are sad that the one and only piece of evidence against Shaw’s thesis turned out to be a mirage.

    Also, if racism is systemic, it should be fairly easy to find multiple examples. One cuckoo does not make a summer

  8. Its only a matter of time before one of these colleges gets an employment discrimination suit from an employee and gets tagged with a huge verdict a la Oberlin. You would think with these big endowments, they could afford better risk management people.

  9. Tbink about it:

    If you get an employment suit from a POC, you are on record claiming your institution is systematically racist contrary to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended.

    If you get an employment suit from a white person who is having nightmares and PTSD due to your racial struggle session, there is acknowledged protection for white people from racial discrimination under federal law.

    You can sue them on both sides of the street. Its as if they spoke to the trial lawyers about how to best redistribute their endowments to the trial bar.

  10. I’m a Smith College alum. Smith has faced allegations of racism for decades, but nothing has ever been substantiated.

    When I was still a student there, the entire student body were forced to attend a mandatory “emergency” assembly in response to an incident of racist graffiti. Smith told us they were investigating, and in fact were unable to determine if a Smith student was the perpetrator; there was really no way to know who did it or why or if it was a hoax. Yet all Smith students were flagellated for our alleged racism.

    Sure, I met many *individual* racist Smith students during my time there. But Smith as an institution was not racist.

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