California community colleges go off the rails with DEI

July 26, 2023 • 9:30 am

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:

An excerpt:

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.

Recommended Description

• 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.

Recommended Description

 • 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.

Recommended Description

• 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.

Recommended Description

• 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.

Recommended Description

• 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.


It’s not surprising that Daymon Johnson is suing the CCC for forcing him to adhere to these behaviors. They’re not only compelled speech, but compelled thought. That violates freedom of speech. Further, by mandating that faculty have to incorporate antiracism into their curricula in specific ways, it also violates academic freedom. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t prevail in the lawsuit.

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.

32 thoughts on “California community colleges go off the rails with DEI

  1. Interesting that “accessibility” is now part of DEI, or DEIA. The revolutionary vanguard is growing.

  2. So what’s the problem? The CCs must have freedom to forge their standards, as part of free speech. This policy was democratically established. It’s what the people want. Free speech is not free if you can cherry-pick.

    1. I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not. If you are, I apologize, if not, I think you fundamentally misunderstand what is going on here. This is a policy establish by the Community Colleges without legislative sanction. And even if they had a law mandating this, it would still be a violation of the First Amendment as compelled speech. The government (the voters or bureaucrats) can’t tell you what you have to say. Recently the pro-censorship folks have advanced this idea of government free-speech, but that doesn’t excuse either limiting an individual’s right to express themselves or allow the government to force speech on them. Finally, the reason we have a First Amendment is so that the voters can’t choose to censor people.

      1. Hi DrBrydon, I’m being ironic. Actually, I am begging a question with dark sarcasm. Here it is straight: there should be separation of school and state. As soon as “you” (or Horace Mann et al) compel school, and sanction taxation to pay for state school, you’ve got a serious violation, because this is a setup for an Orthodoxy of Ideas enforced by the state To quote you back, It is “the government (the voters or bureaucrats) telling us what we have to say.” That does not square with the United States foundation or principle. It certainly leads to the ‘voters choosing to censor people.’

        I cannot understand how anyone can deny that government schools, with enforcement of attendance, and legality to compel funding through taxation, is not both censorship and destruction of freedom … free speech being a subtext of freedom.

        Before someone says it is wrong because parents would keep children ignorant, or wrong because many “can’t afford” private school, I have responses to that, good ones. But the principal comes first: we need government out of schools.

    2. Like DrBrydon, I’m not sure if you’re joking. Democratically established policies can be both injurious and illegal. It was not established by a vote, but by the bosses of California Colleges. I seriously doubt that a state that voted down affirmative action would enacted by referendum something like this. If you think this “is what the people want,” I think you’re dead wrong. If a state voted to do away with the First Amendment (this comes close), would you defend that, too?

  3. The state of California is directing the CCC to do this. Even as the people of California voted against Affirmative Action, the state legislature and the executive branch continue to pressure the CCC and the rest of higher ed in California to “diversify” their faculty pretty much solely on the basis of race.

    They specifically think that if they “incorporate diversity into employee evaluations and tenure reviews” in the manner outlined in this post, then they will get a more “diverse” faculty. Which seems very much like authorizing racial discrimination, just with more complicated words and vaguely defined concepts.

    See this report for the full details:

    1. They’ve had sixty years of temporary affirmative action to build out the backup system for when it eventually got the call to take over the job.

  4. And with no explanation of any test, or criteria, for determination of when “DEI” – or precisely Critical Social Justice – objectives have been achieved.

    Because the objective is power over ideas based on the credential of intersectional identity – or written confession of oppressors. Legalized racism.

    Expressly nothing to do with common ground, individuality, expression, or classical liberalism.

  5. This is sick stuff. It all begins with the idea that if I’m not a racist, I’m a racist. Sounds like something from the planet Orwell.

    Lawsuits are the only remedy, as the crazy DEI culture has reached critical mass and will not go away through power of reason.

    1. I consider people who use the term “whiteness” unironically to be racist, and so-called anti-racists are often unapologetically racist, it’s just a question of who their racism is directed towards. It is usually true that there is racism or discrimination that favors the majority race or ethnic group in a country, but the dominant race or ethnicity varies between countries. Unfortunately, it’s human nature for majorities to organize things to be in their favor. Singling out and putting down white and light skinned Asian people, like many so-called anti-racists do, is racist in itself. I support color blindness and equality between races. That includes accepting that anyone can be racist, not just light skinned Caucasians. Of course, anti-racists would likely condemn me for my support of equality between races.

      1. A sample of what’s to come…

        TO: Mx. Van Rijin
        FR: CCC Administration

        Dear Mx. Rijin,

        Your comment brings to mind page 10 of the CCC’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Glossary of Terms. Specifically the definition of Reverse Racism:

        Reverse Racism: A term created and used by White people to erroneously describe the discrimination they experience when racial minorities allegedly receive preferential treatment. Propagated by segregationist and those against affirmative action, reverse racism is a form of racism that denies the existence of White privilege and assumes that White people have a superior claim to the opportunities that racial minorities earn. This term is also generally used to describe hostile behavior or prejudice directed at White people.

        Because as a CCC employee you have violated the CCC Speech Code and committed unsanctioned speech, you will be docked two weeks pay for your comment. Although you may not have intended to violate the CCC Speech Code, intentions do not matter. What matters is how the CCC Administration and one student felt it; your comment has erased all of us and our lived experience.

        If you object to the punishment, your will be docked another two weeks pay and your struggle session will begin at the start of the school year on stage in the auditorium. In the meantime, the CCC will be publishing your comments and our charges in the school newspaper as well as your hometown newspaper.

        Of course, we do not know if you’re white, but your name is close enough to Whiteness that you qualify for the punishment per the CCC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Competencies and Criteria.


        The CCC Administration


        1. Here are some more quotations.

          ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.’ Marcus Garvey, but better known via Bob Marley’s Redemption Song

          ‘…the mind-forged manacles of man…’ William Blake in London. (Possibly, he is referring to social conditions as much as the thinking which accepts those conditions.)

          On the topic of the post, it’s easy to imagine Marxist-Leninism or the thoughts of Chairman Mao in the place of anti-racism principles in some other countries’ education systems. In my country, the unlegislated principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are acquiring the same unchallengeable, sacred status of deistic anti-racism.

  7. In Washington state, bureaucratic mandates are often imposed in a more literal-minded, rigid, and stupid way in the Community College system than in the university system. I guess this reflects a difference in institutional structure—maybe relative power of faculty versus bureaucrats. Presumably the situation in California and elsewhere is similar.

    The downgrading of “merit” and the substitution of DEI piety for any correspondence with reality will have particularly serious effects at the Community College level. Modern society relies on complex technological systems maintained by personnel who are often trained in the Community College system. The consequence of training these individuals in DEI religion and ideological orthodoxy rather than actual competence is analyzed at: .

    As a matter of fact, looking at some current public works (e.g., the conduct of some transportation projects), one wonders whether a “competence crisis” hasn’t already begun.

  8. Visible race, in the 2020s US, is a much worse predictor of “generational privilege” than parents’ SES or even zip code. An ideology that takes it as an article of faith that the sons of Trump, because of their color, are relevantly sociologically similar to the children of a trailer park white single mother in Appalachia; or that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the daughters of Obama suffer from a similar lack of privilege as the daughters of Walter Wallace, a mentally unwell “aspiring rapper” who was shot by the police in 2020, is unworthy of serious consideration at an institution of higher learning. And mind you I am not saying race is irrelevant, but only as a correlate of cultural, economic and educational capital, a correlate which in the modern ethnically very diverse US has lost much of its use, and there are better measures to gauge “privilege” or lack of it than “race consciousness”, a term the Nazis used a lot.

  9. Academia, or the lower reaches of it at least, certainly seems to have gone mad-but I guess we already knew that. I believe each large public university has an average of about 100 DEIA employees, and nationwide there are likely tens of thousands of “professionals”-not teachers- who do nothing else but promote and disseminate DEIA activities on college campuses. “Diversity Officer” is one of the most in- demand jobs posted on LinkedIn. These people exist to produce policies, guidelines, mission statements, hold training seminars, etc. The Religion now exists, it has its Holy Books, its priests, its rituals, and its mandatory worship sessions.

    To what extent the implementation of the DEIA religion will affect teaching in STEM fields , and in post-graduate practice, is unclear at this point. Clearly, “minoritized” (sic) applicants for teaching jobs at universities are given some preference, but that has long been true. Will the grades on the organic chemistry mid-term be adjusted for the intersectionality scores of the students who take it? Will papers submitted to Physical Review Letters or PNAS receive higher peer rankings based on the advertised ethnicity of the authors? It isn’t clear to me that this has happened yet.

    I think there are two factors that may “immunize” STEM, at least, from the more corrosive effects of the Robin Di Angelo-Ibram Kendi “movement.” One is that science and engineering are globalized and competitive, and the global networks extend far beyond the Anglosphere. Scientists in China and India and, indeed, most of the world are not going to be very impressed by our current parochial obsession in the US and Canada with race guilt and faux social justice. The competitive nature of globalized science will prevent a complete capture of STEM pedagogy by what is essentially an anti-intellectual and anti-meritocratic creed.

    The second is the competence “trap.” In my own field, medicine, the requirements for competence, and the necessity to work effectively with colleagues and patients who don’t look like you, naturally inhibits the spread of an identitarian work culture like DEIA. The same contingencies exist in engineering, computer science, and in fact much of business.

    I may be Pollyanna here, but looking beyond the DEIA boilerplate, certain necessary conditions of science may resist the current fashion.

    1. Mark, we all thought that STEM is immune, but — alas — we were wrong. The STEM is already taken by this ideology, see, for example, exhibits here:
      And yes — they already use DEI in scientific publishing:
      that is, using diversity as a criteria of editors performance, demanding preferential citations of women and minorities, choosing reviewers by gender and race, etc.

      1. I can see immediately two likely results of this new religion, as John McWhorter persuasively claims it is, and Kendian Kafka Trap.
        1. There will be little actual learning in CCCs.
        2. Racism will increase, rather than decline.

  10. This is depressing. It appears that we are moving in a direction where we have to choose DeSantis or this.

    I’d love that the response to insanity to be “sanity” rather than “my preferred insanity.”

    1. This is why I’m a centrist. When I vote, I try to pick politicians based on who is the most moderate, regardless of party. Unfortunately, both parties seem to be moving toward more extremism, just in different directions. And then there’s Trump, his sycophants and those trying to emulate him, whose issues go beyond just policy concerns. It’s depressing.

  11. For a long time woke excesses were the stuff of very elite unis. There’s some data to suggest elite RESIDENTIAL unis were “woke-er” because moral panics spread faster in residential communities than commuter drive in/out environments.

    True to form with most social movements, though, it filters “down”, to larger state unis and herein as far as the community college level.

    And as I always say, sadly, it looks like that with the huge money behind DEI/ESG nonsense, it is only getting worse.

    1. I’m sure that DEI and ESG have some things in common, but fundamentally they seem different. DEI is an illiberal, reactionary religion foisted on an unwary public. ESG may be ineffective (IDK), but many of us probably approve of it in some form.

  12. Thank you for this rational thought. Just this past year I realized that San Francisco by supervisor approved ordinance only not the voters has mandated DEI and has a department of its own. The City seems to have hired expensive DEI reps for every department to make sure people walk the walk. Meanwhile the results are evident on our streets. The voters of the state said no to this and yet?

  13. This reads as though the CCC were intentionally inviting a lawsuit. We can only hope the case will make it all the way through the court system, including appeals. It’s so egregious the CCC will surely lose and much of this nonsense will cease.

  14. Here’s the part that I, a product of a white-privileged research university system, stumbled on:

    “Contributes to DEI and anti-racism research and scholarship.”

    What? Community college teachers barely have enough time to competently teach all the classes they’re loaded with, never mind do research. Those STEM faculty who, heroically, also manage to do research do so to involve their students in the joy of discovery in their subject matter (I know a few such heroes among geology faculty at CCs). How the h-e-double hockey sticks are they supposed to contribute to research and scholarship in a field that is about as far from their own as you can get?

    This is all insane but this one really got to me.

  15. Thanks again for having the will to speak up about this nonsense. Someone has to, and it needs to be someone who isn’t on a brain-dead DeSantis-style crusade for religious extremism. Far too often I find that people think that if I think these things, I must be some kind of MAGA-hat crazy. I am all for “diversity, equity and inclusion” as I have always understood those terms — but how I understand those terms seems increasingly to be at odds with a lot of the people using them.

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