This could be a long article if I summarized all the mishigass going on in the community college system of the state of California, but I’ll try to be brief and put the items in numbered form. The upshot is that the system has thrown its hat entirely in the DEI ring, making all faculty and staff pledge fealty not just to DEI, but to the extreme Ibram Kendi-an view of DEi. And if you don’t obey they’re rules for behaving as an “antiracist”, you could be demoted, fired, or denied tenure. To me, this is a clear and wide-ranging violation of both freedom of speech and academic freedom. (Remember the community college system is part of state government and so must obey the Constitution.)
1.) A lawsuit against California Community Colleges (CCC). The editorial board of the WSJ describes a situation that some might dismiss simply because of the newspaper’s conservative op-ed column, but that would be a mistake. Why? Because the facts check out completely, even on the CCC’s website. See below. Click to read:
Critics of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis argue he has gone too far in trying to root out “wokeness” from public universities, but look to California to see where academic groupthink is going if left unchecked. A legal complaint filed this month by a history professor in Bakersfield says that his community college’s performance and tenure reviews are being used to force faculty to adopt woke progressive values in their classrooms.
Daymon Johnson has been at Bakersfield College since 1993. As he tells it, three months ago California Community Colleges, which serves 1.8 million students at 116 campuses, amended its regulations so employees must espouse its tenets of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA). “Faculty members shall employ teaching, learning, and professional practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles,” the regulations say. Schools must “place significant emphasis on DEIA competencies in employee evaluation and tenure review.”
A detailed baseline explanation of that last policy was soon distributed to faculty, including at Bakersfield College. “The DEI competencies provided in this document are meant to define the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that all California Community College (CCC) employees must demonstrate,” it says, according to the copy attached as an exhibit to Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit. Here are a few of the items it lists as markers of success for faculty and staff:
• “Promotes and incorporates DEI and anti-racist pedagogy.”
• “Develops and implements a pedagogy and/or curriculum that promotes a race-conscious and intersectional lens.”
• “Contributes to DEI and anti-racism research and scholarship.”
• “Articulates the importance and impact of DEI and anti-racism as part of the institution’s greater mission.”
• “Advocates for and advances DEI and anti-racist goals and initiatives.”
• “Leads DEI and anti-racist efforts by participating in DEI groups, committees, or community activities that promote systemic and cultural change to close equity gaps and support minoritized groups.”
• “Participates in a continuous cycle of self-assessment of one’s growth and commitment to DEI and acknowledgement of any internalized personal biases and racial superiority or inferiority.”
Mr. Johnson opposes it all and is suing with help from the Institute for Free Speech. “Professor Johnson cannot satisfy DEIA standards based on the state Chancellor’s DEIA competencies without violating his conscience and surrendering his academic freedom,” his filing says. “Almost everything Professor Johnson teaches violates the new DEIA requirements—not just by failing to advance the DEIA and anti-racist ideologies, but also by criticizing them.”
He doesn’t want to change his “classical pedagogy that stresses the study of ‘truth, goodness, and beauty.’” He doesn’t want to engage in DEIA “self-reflection,” which “he views as religious-like and little more than neo-Marxist re-education on race.” He doesn’t want to “articulate” the antiracism credo, which he believes is “antithetical to Bakersfield College’s mission and the American national ideal not to discriminate and provide equal opportunity for all regardless of the melanin in a person’s skin.”
To see what Johnson is being asked to adhere to, follow the links given below.
2.) The CCC mission as stated on its page (click below):
These seems pretty innocuous at first, or at least in line with the stuff going on in other places, but this is extreme.
The Chancellor’s Office is equipping districts and colleges with the tools and support they need to create equity-centered, anti-racist policies and practices, including:
- Embedding DEIA competencies and criteria into employee evaluations and tenure review processes.
- Updating the student grievance process to provide clear steps for students to raise concerns and resolve acts of racism, microaggressions and discomfort
- Re-evaluate and embed DEIA in district equal employment opportunity (EEO) plans to demonstrate an ongoing, action-oriented commitment to EEO and DEIA.
- Encouraging more mentorship opportunities between students and faculty.
- Provide professional learning resources focused on institutional bias, structural racism, and their impact on campus culture and student success.
The requirements for faculty and staff are extreme, and their success on the job rests on adhering to a strict form of Critical Race Theory. First, here’s a 4-minute video showing a number of CCC staff discussing the new policy. It starts off innocuously, discussing the pandemic, fires, and other natural disasters. Only then does it get to the bee of DEI (0:39).
What struck me most strongly was the repeated assertion that you need to be surrounded by mentors and faculty in which they “can see themselves reflected.” What they mean is that students require an environment filled with others of their own ethnicity if they are to succeed. This shows clearly that “diversity” here means not just “racial diversity” (forget about intellectual, religious, or socioeconomic diversity), but “racial diversity that can be discerned by looking at peoples’ appearances”.
This is about as far from being “color blind” as you can imagine, but if you check the links below, you’ll see in the definition of “color blind” that Martin Luther King’s plea for ignoring skin color is immediately binned by the CCC. The explicit assumption is that students cannot feel that they belong at a university unless they see many people who “look like them.”
3.) There is an approved glossary of terms on the CCC website. There are too many to show, but check it out. I’ll give but three. This was all distributed to the faculty and staff.
The first two are straight out of Kendi with its emphasis on the ubiquity of structural racism and the claim that if you are not actively opposing racism, you’re a racist yourself
Anti-Racist: Person who actively opposes racism and the unfair treatment of people who belong to other races. They recognize that all racial groups are equal (i.e. nothing inherently superior or inferior about specific racial groups) and that racist policies have caused racial inequities. They also understand that racism is pervasive and has been embedded into all societal structures. An anti-racist challenges the values, structures, policies, and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism, and they are also willing to admit the times in which they have been racist. Persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial of the racial problems and inequities that exist.
Anti-Racism: A powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas. Practicing antiracism requires constantly identifying, challenging, and upending existing racist policies to replace them with antiracist policies that foster equity between racial groups.
If you don’t do constantly engage in such activities, your denying the existence of racism and inequities, and the implication (à la Kendi) is that “if you’re not an antiracist, you’re a racist”).
Color Blindness: Is a racial ideology that assumes the best way to end prejudice and discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. This ideology is grounded in the belief that race-based differences do not matter and should not be considered for decisions, impressions, and behaviors. However, the term
“color blind” de‐emphasizes, or ignores, race and ethnicity, a large part of one’s identity and lived experience. In doing so, it perpetuates existing racial inequities and denies systematic racism.
Bye, bye, MLK. Colorblindness is said here to perpetuate racism. I don’t think they understand what “treating individuals as equally as possible” really means in academia. It does NOT mean ignoring differences in background or understanding.
I find this one offensive and patronizing, implying that nonwhite students cannot be judged by merit, but must be held to lower standards.
Merit: A concept that at face value appears to be a neutral measure of academic achievement and qualifications; however, merit is embedded in the ideology of Whiteness and upholds race-based structural inequality. Merit protects White privilege under the guise of standards (i.e., the use of standardized tests that are biased against racial minorities) and as highlighted by anti-affirmative action forces. Merit implies that White people are deemed better qualified and more worthy but are denied opportunities due to race-conscious policies. However, this understanding of merit and worthiness fails to recognize systemic oppression, racism, and generational privilege afforded to Whites.
The site also says that “race” is a pure social construct, and that “there are no distinctive genetic characteristics that truly distinguish between groups of people.” That, of course, is a flat-out lie. The classical human races, or even ethnic groups, are not absolutely distinguishable by single genes, but using constellations of genes allows one to place both ethnicity and geographic origin with substantial accuracy, as Luana and I discuss in our paper. (Of course we deny the assertion of the CCCC that “race presumes human worth and social status for the purpose of establishing and maintaining privilege and power.”
4.) And the CCC’s vision for DEI, mandating how its employees must behave if they’re to succeed. If you look at only one thing, look at this document mandating proper behavior for employees. If you don’t adhere, you’ll disappear.
Here’s the intro:
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION COMPETENCIES AND CRITERIA The DEI competencies provided in this document are meant to define the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that all California Community College (CCC) employees must demonstrate to work, teach, and lead in a diverse environment that celebrates and is inclusive of diversity (See Table 1). During the evaluation and tenure review process, employees will be able to demonstrate they have met the DEI competencies using concrete examples based on DEI criteria provided in this document (See Table 2). As aforementioned, the subgroup participated in activities to develop the DEI competencies and criteria. In partnership with the Chancellor’s Office, the Success Center analyzed and categorized the subgroup’s responses from activities using thematic coding. Responses that shared a common theme were grouped together under an overarching thematic code, and a description was created for each thematic code. In addition, each competency and criteria was assessed as to whether it applies to faculty, staff (including administrators), or both employee types. The most common themes that emerged for DEI Competencies were Cultural Competency, Self-reflection, and Self-Improvement. The most common themes that emerged for DEI Criteria are Service, Self-assessment, and DEI Environment.
These requirements apply to both faculty and staff except for the third:
Theme applies to both faculty and staff.
• Engages in self-assessment of one’s own commitment to DEI and internal biases, and seeks opportunities for growth to acknowledge and address the harm caused by internal biases and behavior.
Theme applies to both faculty and staff.
• Demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement as it relates to one’s DEI and anti-racism knowledge, skills, and behaviors to mitigate any harm caused (whether intentional or not) to minoritized communities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Pedagogy & Curriculum
Theme applies to faculty.
• Promotes and incorporates DEI and anti-racist pedagogy.
• Accommodates for diverse learning styles and utilizes holistic assessment methods.
•Participates in training to incorporate culturally affirming pedagogy.
Theme applies to both faculty and staff.
• Uses data to uncover inequitable outcomes measured through equity-mindedness that calls out racialized patterns in the data, policies, and practices to inform strategies to improve equitable student outcomes and success.
This is not only inapplicable to many people, but also mandates a given result: you must find “racialized patterns in the data” and then fix them. Talk about confirmation bias!
And, finally, the most invidious one.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Criteria Themes Service (e.g., service to the institution or community, or professional service)
Theme applies to both faculty and staff.
• Advocates for and advances DEI and anti-racist goals and initiatives\
• Leads DEI and anti-racist efforts by participating in DEI groups, committees, or community activities that promote systemic and cultural change to close equity gaps and support minoritized groups.
• Contributes to student life on campus and supports diverse students beyond the classroom.
• Includes a DEI and race-conscious pedagogy and/or curriculum in campus activities for students, faculty, and/or staff.
• Understands and applies asset-based student-centered practices and activities that recognize students’ lived experiences, strengths, and capabilities and empowers students to take ownership of their learning experience (e.g., Competency Based Education, Credit for Prior Learning, etc.).
• Commits to the success of minoritized students by providing specific opportunities to access educational pathways and opportunities for academic and career success (including academic and non-academic advising, mentorship).
• Develops and implements student programs and activities that incorporate a raceconscious and intersectional lens and equips students to engage with the world as scholars and citizens.
• Creates an inclusive learning and working environment by valuing differences among colleagues and students and recognizing the ideological disproportionate impacts on historically minoritized racial groups.
• Contributes to DEI and anti-racism research and scholarship.
Once again we see public colleges being transformed into instruments for Social Justice. It seems sufficient to me to say that a school does not discriminate on the grounds of race, ability, gender, religion, and so on, and add that the college prizes diversity attained within the law.