A cultural virus has mutated and infected Texas’ governments at the state and local level. It is breeding bigotry, anti-citizenship, and hostile work environments.
Previously, Texas Scorecard reported on a cultural virus’ infestation in the private sector and the havoc it has wreaked there. It is advertised as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), but in practice is divide, excommunicate, and indoctrinate.
Experienced professionals explained the insidious roots of these ideas, how they may sound relatively innocuous or even human, and how this propaganda masks a destructive ideology underneath. This virus has since mutated to infect state and local governments.
The pandemic has spread to Texas.
A Cautionary Tale
George Orwell, a vocal opponent of Stalinism in the early 20th century, wrote a famous book called “Animal Farm.” In this story, farm animals staged a successful rebellion against a tyrannical farmer and wrested control of the farm. In the early stages, operations ran fairly smoothly, and a moral code of sorts was scrawled on the barn door in order to maintain a peaceful state of affairs. The last rule on the list read: “all animals are equal.”
Gradually, a cadre of pigs began to siphon off control for themselves and rule over the other livestock for their own self-serving gain rather than the good of the whole farm community. The rights and safeguards which had been instituted after the revolution began to disintegrate, and the animals soon found themselves suffering under a new dictatorship of their peers. The writing on the barn wall vanished, until only one precept remained: “all animals are equal… but some animals are more equal than others.”
While DEI—“divide, excommunicate, and indoctrinate”—has invaded many businesses and seats of government, it is especially pervasive in the state’s capital city: Austin. Numerous branches and departments of city government have implemented these woke policies in some form or fashion, all containing the same divisive ideas.
Ideas that are warping the cultures of the institutions taxpayers fund. One such institution is the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
The 2020 lockdowns, mandates, and recent revelations about vaccine manufacturing, have raised serious concerns about government health departments.
For instance, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has a center specifically dedicated to the “elimination of disproportionality and disparities.” This center has compiled a handbook that accompanies an “equity” presentation. All are part of a series of workshops to take place.
However, this is not pushing equality, but the bigoted term of “equity.” It does not simply encourage participants to love each other. Rather, it draws heavily on leftist materials, a signature trademark of the cultural DEI virus. This term has also been subject to social gain-of-function work by the left and abused to promote a social vision that leads to greater inequality.
The handbook itself appears to elevate the preferred leftist term of “equity” over “equality.” “Equity’ is slightly different than ‘equality,’ and is the condition that we ultimately hope to achieve in Texas,” it states.
The handbook outlines three goals for its indoctrination curriculum. The first asks staff members to focus on differences and elevates colorism. The second advances equity, and the third is to “further develop cultural competencies of staff and stakeholders” in HHS, “and other systems and communities.”
In other words, keep spreading the cultural virus.
“Cultural competence” is a phrase parents in the North Texas city of Southlake are very familiar with. In July 2020, parents of students attending the Carroll Independent School District were shocked and alarmed to learn the district was implementing a “Cultural Competence Action Plan.”
Dubbed the CCAP, this plan called for the district to “create a systemic process for consistently tracking and reporting microaggressions and incidents of discrimination.” It also required the establishment of a homosexual student focus group (grades 9-12), “an equity and inclusion grievance process system, and expand the school’s tip line to collect allegations of microaggressions.”
The results of Texas Scorecard’s DEI investigation suggests that the woke cultural virus’ introduction in education indicated that it has likely infected most if not all levels of government in the Lone Star State.
As for DHHS’ handbook—like most propaganda—it relies heavily on the redefinition of terms. You can win any game if you get to make the rules, and you can win any argument if you redefine the terms to your liking.
For example, “disparity” is defined as “a difference that should not exist.” From the very beginning, with a subtle combination of sleight-of-hand and logical fallacies, the proponents of this ideology have presupposed their conclusion: all disparities are inequitable and unjust, since by definition, a disparity is a difference that should not exist.
There is no consideration of why disparities inherently should not exist, or how these people came to determine that certain differences qualify as disparities and others do not. The need for evidence, logical reasoning, and rebuttal of counter-arguments goes out the window. Thinking is not allowed, only blind submission.
Neither do these definitions provide much clarity, as definitions are intended to do. The definition they use for equality is a circular one: “the quality or state of being equal.”
Anything deemed unequal by this doctrine is deemed automatically and inherently unjust. In fact, the handbook prompts facilitators to ask participants “Who needs to change?” when they are presented with a statistical disparity, instead of bothering to stop and ask if anything needs to change in the first place.
This “woke” understanding of equality overlooks obvious facts of life. Humans are inherently unequal, not in value or worth, but in nearly all other categories, such as physical characteristics, strength, intellect, drive, passion, and virtue, just to name a few. With such undeniable differences, vastly different and unequal outcomes should be expected.
Children raised under the same roof, who attend the same school, with the same parents, and numerous other common factors, often end up with strikingly different life outcomes. As distinguished conservative economist Thomas Sowell wrote in his book “Discrimination and Disparities”:
A given man is not even equal to himself at different stages of life—sometimes not even on different days—much less equal to all others who are in varying stages of their own lives.
None of these approaches discussed in the handbook addresses the main point: cultivating an environment where a group of people work together as a team to accomplish the goal and purpose of the organization.
Former Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy addresses this in his book (co-written with Nathan Whitaker) “The Soul Of A Team.”
Unity is essential for binding team members together and focusing them on achieving the team’s goals rather than wasting time and energy on divisiveness. A team that isn’t unified and headed in the same direction isn’t much of a team at all. It’s simply a collection of individuals.
Dungy earned a .668 winning percentage during his career as a head coach.
Invisible Racism and Bad History
The DHHS curriculum proceeds to outline some key—and questionable—objectives.
The list includes: “identify[ing] and recogniz[ing] the existence of systemic racial inequities within health and human services… how they play a role in perpetuating practices that lead to inequitable outcomes… [and] identify[ing] strategies to address the causes of systemic racial inequities.” As these goals indicate, “systemic racism” is a foregone conclusion. The possibility that it may not pervade every institution in American society, or may not exist at all, is not entertained for a single second.
This presentation goes out of its way to plant subversive attitudes against America and Texas in the minds of bureaucrats. It provides a poor overview of American history. Once again, the metrics of success are rigged from the start: participants will “recognize … how this history established a foundation for the disproportionality and disparities that exist today… [and] recognize that systems should use a race equity lens when they develop policies and practices.”
One such example stands out in their note on the Declaration of Independence: “The ideal of full human equality has been a major legacy (and ongoing challenge) of the Declaration of Independence. But the signers of 1776 did not have quite that radical an agenda…” This narrative discounts the intent and beliefs of the Founders when it came to slavery. In fact, in an explanation of the history behind the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, slavery is highlighted as a “typical American feature,” alongside ideals like a Bill of Rights and separation of powers.
For the leftist ideologues in Austin, slavery is as American as apple pie, and as Texan as cowboy boots.
This narrative betrays an ignorance of the fact that numerous signers of the Declaration decried and opposed the institution of slavery. Benjamin Franklin lamented that a request by the Virginia Assembly to prohibit the importation of slaves into the colony would likely be rejected by the King of England. Thomas Jefferson, in his original draft of the Declaration, listed among the grievances against the King his “determin[ation] to keep open a market where men should be bought [and] sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce…” John Quincy Adams, speaking on the inconsistency between the words of the Declaration and the institution of slavery, rebuffs critics of Jefferson and other Founders, saying that those Founders
universally considered [slavery] as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural stepmother country, and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth.
Adams even quoted Jefferson himself, who wrote in his memoir that “nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate, then that these people are to be free.”
Countless more examples exist.
Sam Houston—one of the most well-known figures in Texas history—was the president of the Republic of Texas, and eventually became governor when Texas became a state. Houston voted against the spread of slavery on numerous occasions, and was eventually deposed as governor of Texas because he refused to secede and join the Confederacy. Although a slaveholder himself, it was widely reported that Houston treated his slaves like family, allowed them to work side jobs for pay, and taught them how to read (which was illegal at that time). He purchased one slave, Jeff Hamilton, when he discovered that he was being sold to a man notorious for mistreating his slaves. According to Hamilton’s writings, Houston read the Emancipation Proclamation to his slaves prior to freeing them. Hamilton later said of Houston: “I think General Sam Houston was one of the greatest men that ever lived.”
Most of these newly freed slaves decided to stay with Houston until his death.
One of the freed slaves, Joshua Houston, eventually helped found the first black-owned church in the city of Huntsville, was appointed as an alderman, elected as a county commissioner, and even served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1888.
However, these accounts of history were conveniently excluded from the DHHS presentation. Instead, the presenters recommended blatantly anti-American books.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s chief of staff, Gardner Pate, did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry about the DHHS situation before publication.
Such subversive indoctrination is not only taking place at the state level.
A presentation conducted by the City of Austin to new employees likewise made a mockery of American history, featuring several quotations from the popular woke and revisionist history book, “White Fragility.”
When discussing the Founding, it said: “The US economy was based on the abduction and enslavement of African people, the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people, and the annexation of Mexican lands.” When addressing Indian removal, it said: “Time and again, when white Americans wanted native land, they simply took it.” When it came to assimilation of other people groups, it said: “In reality, only European immigrants were allowed to melt, or assimilate, into dominant culture in the 19th and 20th centuries, because… regardless of their ethnic identities these immigrants were perceived to be white and thus belong.” Finally, when it came to slavery, it said: “Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation.”
Facts that might put many of these historical events into proper context, and provide evidence that America was not founded on the ideas of slavery, genocide, and racism were simply not included.
The Texas DHHS curriculum also emphasizes the importance of collecting data by race and ethnicity in order to highlight disparities. In doing so, the instructors ask loaded questions such as “Are there problems with taking a ‘colorblind’ approach?”
Implanted in that question is the suggestion Civil Rights Leader, and martyr, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong. Believing people ought “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” is spun as being a foolish and problematic stance. Dr. King would disagree.
The Texas DHHS is not alone in their rejection of a colorblind lens. According to the arbiters of DEI at the City of Austin, this is a problematic approach, since “color blindness negates the person of color’s identity.”
For the opponents of self-governance, treating people unequally based on the color of their skin is true equity. In the words of British commentator Douglas Murray, author of The Madness of Crowds, “At the very moment when the issue of race might at long last have been put to rest, they have decided once again to make it the most important issue of all.”
A training prepared for city employees featured the City of Austin Strategic Direction Statement for 2023. It states unequivocally that “RACE is the primary predictor of outcomes and it is time to recognize, understand, and address racism at its various levels: personal, institutional, structural, and systemic.” (emphasis original)
The city of Austin’s public servants have decided that the most important factor in determining citizens’ outcomes in life is the color of their skin. The arguments, reasoning, and supporting evidence for this outlandish claim were not the focus of this presentation. Instead, the training focused on applying “a lens of racial equity and healing” in order to “advance equitable outcomes.” This training included a myriad of woke leftist talking points, some of which were mirrored in other city training materials.
Like many others, this presentation also began with a redefinition of terms that pits city employees against each other, resulting in a hostile work environment:
For purposes of this training, we want users to know we are using the term “racism” specifically to refer to individual, cultural, institutional and systemic ways by which differential consequences are created for groups historically or currently defined as white being advantaged, and groups historically or currently defined as non-white (African, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, etc.) as disadvantaged. [emphasis added]
From the start, this presentation redefined racism to only apply to slights or disadvantages inflicted on non-white people groups. White people are automatically assumed to be privileged and therefore immune to colorism. Those who are white are the oppressors, and those who are not are the victims. No argument was made to this effect, no evidence was provided, no counter arguments were entertained in the records Texas Scorecard reviewed.
Another presentation, promoted by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a group which “prioritize[s] equity in green workforce development,” explained one of the city’s visions for the program: “to dismantle supremacist systems that operate upon us and within us.” Included in the training was education on implicit biases, and intersectionality. There were additional resources specifically for white women on “dismantling white institutional culture.”
According to these materials, products of this white culture are professionalism, time, structure, rules, and competition. In fact, they claim that “a fixation on efficiency and productivity are two hallmarks of white institutional culture.”
The subtle bigoted suggestion of this argument is that laziness and inefficiency are the hallmarks of non-whites. Such an idea would outrage highly productive change agents like Booker T. Washington. This attitude also encourages a culture of incompetence and poor performance on the taxpayer’s dime.
A citation in this presentation links back towards a resource on “whiteness” by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Within is a bigoted and colorist statement that imputes guilt on generations of innocent human beings.
Being white does not mean you haven’t experienced hardships or oppression. Being white does mean you have not faced hardships or oppression based on the color of your skin. We need to be honest about the ways white people have benefited from racism so we can work toward an equitable, fair and just society.
The Smithsonian Museum, which is 50 percent taxpayer-funded, and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department have decided what it means to be white. The woke arbiters of social justice have determined that being white automatically makes you guilty of benefiting from colorism.
It is difficult to imagine the same language being used in a reversed scenario. Imagine such training for bureaucrats today.
However, because this taxpayer-funded training is targeted at white people, that form of bigotry is okay and all bets are off. But by equating efficiency, productivity, and other keys to success in the professional world with whiteness, they have joined hands with past bigots by labeling non-white people as unprofessional, inefficient, or not productive.
Woke Upon Woke
In their training session for city employees, the City of Austin also introduced a common DEI buzzword: microaggressions. Another callback to the parents versus educational establishment battle at Carroll ISD in Southlake.
Examples of microaggressions included using “heteronormative examples in the workplace,” “assuming the gender of any employee,” or “den[ying] the experiences of employees by questioning the credibility and validity of their stories.” In other words, using common sense and reasoning rather than immediately accepting another’s experience as gospel truth is unacceptable in Austin. Language will be policed in this government.
It also states that Austin’s own personnel policies have created a class system within the city government. “Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation based upon a protected class, in any form, as defined in federal, state or local law/ordinance, will not be tolerated.” While their definition of these classes touch almost every qualifier under the sun—including “national origin,” “gender identity,” and homosexuality—the implication is there are unprotected classes the city does not recognize.
More proof the woke mind virus discourages individuals seeing each other as human beings, much less that we should love our neighbors.
Even basic decency is offensive in Austin. Telling someone who has a disability “I don’t think of you as a person with disabilities” is a microaggression. Assuming someone with a disability wants your help—or even offering assistance—is an egregious offense.
In another not-so-subtle display of colorism, microaggressions were categorically condemned when they were applied to minorities (whether intentionally or unintentionally), but white men were held to a different standard. The training materials say:
Oftentimes when facilitating microaggressions, white men make statements like, “What if I am called a redneck, or trailer trash? Is that not a microaggression?” The answer is no. It is degrading and humiliating, but white men are not marginalized or oppressed, and by definition, microaggressions are small daily insults and indignities perpetrated against marginalized or oppressed people because of their affiliation with that marginalized or oppressed group.
Here is yet another example of leftist words being hijacked, redefined, and stacked against any individual or group that might disagree with the woke narrative being promoted in the halls of city governments, school districts, and workplaces across the country. It was once done against non-whites. Now that the targets are white, the joke is simply “degrading and humiliating.” But if the target is not white, the statement is “an indignity perpetrated against marginalized groups” requiring an all-staff training presentation.
Another definition provided in a manual for the Austin Fire Department is that of privilege: “To those who have it, privilege is an invisible, or at least substantially obscured, thorny concept. Privilege is easily nameable and definable by people from a target group.” This idea—referred to as standpoint theory in Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay’s book “Cynical Theories”—is another offshoot of woke leftist ideology: the idea that the “privileged” have a limited view of their so-called privilege, while the marginalized have “double-knowledge,” which enables them to understand both their own perspective and that of the privileged.
Like many other claims made by leftist ideologues, the identification of privilege is conveniently unfalsifiable: the accusers are the only ones who can identify privilege and those who are accused of having privilege cannot know they have it. Any attempts to refute the prevailing narratives about systemic racism and inequality are futile.
For example, arguing that “Asians are not discriminated against because they are prevalent in professional occupations, such as doctors and IT professionals” is unacceptable. Suggesting that disproportionate outcomes might be explained by a disproportionate readiness and willingness to work is likewise taboo. Any argument that runs counter to the prevailing social vision of the left is deemed evidence of the oppressive system at work.
James Lindsay, a vocal critic of this woke ideology, wrote in “Cynical Theories”:
A problem arises … when any school of thought refuses to submit its ideas to rigorous scrutiny, rejects that kind of examination on principle, and asserts that any attempts to subject it to thoughtful criticism are immoral, insincere, and proof of its thesis.
The Austin Public Health Department launched DEI training in the form of an Equity Academy. Many of their goals were similar to those previously mentioned in other city departments. Once again, the training highlighted the recognition of systemic racism as one of their primary goals. In fact, the course agenda specified that “participants will appreciate … how systemic racism can function even in the absence of racist ideas.” The document is dated June 6, 2022, and this particular section has a note from a Natalie Goodnow. She writes that “These need some updating to reflect recent revisions.”
The idea that racism is everywhere—even if people themselves aren’t racist—is a key tenet of woke leftist ideology. As James Lindsay wrote in “Cynical Theories”:
It is the social system and its inherent power dynamics that are seen as the causes of oppression, not necessarily willful individual agents. Thus, a society, social system, or institution can be seen as in some way oppressive without any individual involved with it needing to be shown to hold even a single oppressive view.
For Austin Public Health, these training sessions aren’t simply promoting equity in the workplace. They claim these are keys to preventing genocide. One chart, dubbed the “Pyramid of Hate” from the far-left Anti-Defamation League, depicts how microaggressions, non-inclusive language, insensitive remarks, and unchecked privilege are stepping stones to violence and genocide.
Other charts used in the course include this colorful “Power Mapping Activity,” where participants are instructed to ask themselves what aspects of their identity provide them with power and privilege.
One thing that the wheel makes clear is that, for the left, sex and gender are not the same thing. The former is a scientific term, the latter a term to advance the misleading idea that one can change one’s sex. Such ideas are used to encourage individuals to explore undergoing the abusive, but profitable, abusive medical procedures of gender mutilation and hormone manipulation. Texas Scorecard covered this in a five-part investigative series.
Some might ask why it is necessary or beneficial to focus on everyone’s differences rather than their commonalities. In response, the trainers dogmatically state: “We can’t notice differences – disparities, inequities – in outcomes if we don’t notice how we are different from one another, which then means we can’t solve the problems causing those disparities and inequities.”
The essence of colorism and other forms of bigotry is defining people by their differences, especially the color of their skin. People have rarely created unity by focusing on what divides them. This is especially the case when the root of the division cannot be tangibly observed, but is rather ascribed to some invisible, insidious force that permeates all aspects of life.
In “Discrimination and Disparities,” Thomas Sowell asked, “What can any society today hope to gain by having newborn babies in that society enter the world as heirs to prepackaged grievances against other babies born into that same society on the same day?”
The short answer is: not unity.
Fire-fighting on the Back Burner
The cultural DEI virus knows no bounds. It has even taken root in the Austin Fire Department.
Whereas many Texans would say that the AFD’s time and resources ought to be directed at maximizing their ability and proficiency in protecting people and communities from blazing fires, woke activists beg to differ. The city’s woke training for them operates with “working assumptions” such as: “None of us ‘invented’ oppression; it is a legacy we inherited. Though its creation is not our fault, we must now accept responsibility for our role in its continued existence.”
Apparently Austin’s public servants’ new goal for the fire department is doing penance for historic colorist oppression, none of which any member of the department was responsible for, or even alive to witness.
One topic covered by this training is “internalized oppression,” or “the involuntary belief by members of a target group … that the stereotypes and lies about them are true”. These targets, “through no fault or desire of their own, have absorbed negative feelings and attitudes about themselves and are socialized to embody the values and attitudes of the very system that oppresses them.”
In the eyes of the woke, these so-called marginalized people have lost all individuality, agency, and will. They have been lumped together by sex, race, social class, or homosexuality and reduced to powerless chess pieces on a board.
This is another unfalsifiable claim supported by zero evidence, yet peddled without a second thought. For pushers of the DEI cultural virus, a member of a group they have predetermined is marginalized can never honestly disagree with these claims on the merits of the argument. If they agree with the left, they are proof that the claims are true. If they disagree, this is proof that they have merely internalized their oppression.
This training also provides readers with additional resources on how to be an “ally for” this new form of colorism. Provided by an organization called Cultural Bridges to Justice, whose mission is to dismantle so-called systems of oppression in America, they claim:
We have inherited a legacy of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, ableism and ageism. This legacy was also inherited by every U.S. institution. We need not put ourselves in the position of defending a diseased system. We cannot be blamed for the creation of oppressive institutions, but we must and will be held accountable for colluding with their continuation. Our responsibility then, is to take every action possible to dismantle all forms of oppression.
This organization goes so far as to say that “no U.S. American has ever lived in a non-racist, non-sexist nation.” Their website contains numerous written materials and blogs that further this anti-American ideology. These materials include inventories of so-called internalized racism and sexism. Many women would be appalled to know that wearing restrictive clothing or heels more than one inch high are signs of internalized oppression.
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson and Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s request for comment on our findings before publication.
Instead of focusing on the priorities that matter to Texans, bureaucrats and local public servants have been infected with the “woke mind virus” of DEI spreading across the nation. Taxpayer dollars are being used to tear down the very institutions they pledged to protect, all while dividing, excommunicating, and indoctrinating their students, employees, and citizens with their hateful agenda.
In part 3, Texas Scorecard will examine the extent to which this damaging ideology has spread in the Lone Star State.