A so-called ‘antiracism’ training in the city of Austin has been canceled after drawing widespread derision following revelations it would consist of separate training for employees “of color” and white employees.
As first reported by Fox News, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department recently sent an e-mail to employees announcing the creation of so-called ‘antiracist affinity groups’ that were to begin meeting later this month.
Most shockingly, the department set up separate meetings for so-called ‘people of color’ on February 22 and ‘white people’ on February 26. As the e-mail explained:
For People of Color*: Once a month, PARD employees of color will meet up at various city sites The first 1.5 hours will be for fostering dialogue and the last 30 minutes will be for networking. This monthly space will offer folks the opportunities to gather and connect with other PARD employees of color, share about our personal and professional experiences with racism, and learn about mentoring and job opportunities for professional development.
That description is followed by an asterisk disclaimer explaining that the February 22 meeting is only for “people of color.”
“To cultivate a brave and safe space for attendees, we kindly ask that you do not attend these spaces if you are not a Person of Color,” the department email added.
“Once a month, white PARD employees will meet up at various city sites. The first 1.5 hours will be for fostering dialogue and the last 30 minutes will be for networking,” the email continued. “In this space, white folks will share about their ongoing learning around anti-racism, explore their role in disrupting racism in and outside of work, hold one another accountable in this work and actively practice being in solidarity with PARD employees of color and communities of color.”
The city’s training program appeared to some to violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states the government shall not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
After being caught, the city issued an apology:
The email was not vetted, did not reflect the Department’s values, and, within 24-hours, the Department issued a retraction email apologizing for the exclusion of employees in any space… While the original email identified separate racial groups to encourage participants’ comfort and willingness to share personal experiences, the intent of the email/groups was not to be exclusionary, but rather to provide a supportive environment for sharing their lived experiences and identify ways to improve the Department’s relational culture.
A spokesperson for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department told Texas Scorecard all events related to this training have been canceled.
However, it is unclear if other “antiracism” training efforts by the city department have been entirely halted.
Anyone with further information on the program can contact Texas Scorecard at the following email address: Tips@TexasScorecard.com.