Christopher Rufo: AT&T’s racial reeducation promotes idea that 'racism is a uniquely white trait’

Chris Rufo: Critical race theory ‘endemic’ in America’s Fortune 100 companies

Manhattan Institute senior fellow discusses ‘woke’ indoctrination in corporate America on ‘The Ingraham Angle.’

Editor’s note: This column was first published in City Journal.

AT&T Corporation has created a racial reeducation program that promotes the idea that “American racism is a uniquely white trait” and boosts left-wing causes such as “reparations,” “defund police,” and “trans activism.”

I have obtained a cache of internal documents about the company’s initiative, called Listen Understand Act, which is based on the core principles of critical race theory, including “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” and “white fragility.” 

CEO John Stankey launched the program last year and, subsequently, has told employees that private corporations such as AT&T have an “obligation to engage on this issue of racial injustice” and push for “systemic reforms in police departments across the country.” 

According to a senior employee, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, managers at AT&T are now assessed annually on diversity issues, with mandatory participation in programs such as discussion groups, book clubs, mentorship programs, and race reeducation exercises. 

White employees, the source said, are tacitly expected to confess their complicity in “white privilege” and “systemic racism,” or they will be penalized in their performance reviews. As part of the overall initiative, employees are asked to sign a loyalty pledge to “keep pushing for change,” with suggested “intentions” such as “reading more about systemic racism” and “challenging others’ language that is hateful.” “If you don’t do it,” the senior employee says, “you’re [considered] a racist.”

On the first page of AT&T’s Listen Understand Act internal portal, the company encourages employees to study a resource called “White America, if you want to know who’s responsible for racism, look in the mirror.” 

The article claims that the United States is a “racist society” and lays out its thesis plainly: “White people, you are the problem. Regardless of how much you say you detest racism, you are the sole reason it has flourished for centuries.” 

The author, Dahleen Glanton, writes that “American racism is a uniquely white trait” and that “Black people cannot be racist.” White women, she claims, “have been telling lies on black men since they were first brought to America in chains,” and, along with their white male counterparts, “enjoy the opportunities and privileges that white supremacy affords [them].”

Another resource included in the program in an article which argues that “COVID-19 may have actually helped prepare us to confront in a deeper, more meaningful way the many faces of racism and how entrenched it is in society.” 

According to the article, written by Andrés Tapia of the consulting firm Korn Ferry, the pandemic has created a “brooding sense of always feeling vulnerable” for white Americans, which has forced them to fear imminent death, which “many Blacks live with every day.” 

Furthermore, as millions of Americans have lost their jobs and secured unemployment benefits, they “have more time” to attend street protests, which provided “a way to feel like one could have an impact.” As a result, Tapia argues, the pandemic established the conditions for a sense of “shared helplessness” that has resulted in political activism.

In the “Act” section of the training program, AT&T encourages employees to participate in a “21-Day Racial Equity Habit Challenge” that relies on the concepts of “whiteness,” “white privilege,” and “white supremacy.” 

The program instructs AT&T employees to “do one action [per day for 21 days] to further [their] understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity.” The challenge begins with a series of lessons on “whiteness,” which claims, among other things, that “white supremacy [is] baked into our country’s foundation,” that “Whiteness is one of the biggest and most long-running scams ever perpetrated,” and that the “weaponization of whiteness” creates a “constant barrage of harm” for minorities. 

The 21-Day Challenge also directs employees to articles and videos promoting fashionable left-wing causes, including “reparations,” “defund police,” and “trans activism,” with further instruction to “follow, quote, repost, and retweet” organizations including the Transgender Training Institute and the National Center for Transgender Equality. 

AT&T is another Fortune 100 company that has succumbed to the latest fad: corporate “diversity and inclusion” programming that traffics in the ugly concepts of race essentialism and collective guilt. 

The company has publicly pledged itself to a set of principles that include, “When we make a mistake, we have the character and courage to make it right and learn from it.” 

If that commitment is genuine, CEO John Stankey should immediately scrap Listen Understand Act, apologize to his workers and customers, and develop a program that does not vilify certain racial groups and promote divisive and destructive ideas.  

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