I Was Asked to Sign a Contract at Work That Said “White People Are Racist”

I was a liberal once. I still identify as a more traditional liberal; I support the right to free speech, the rule of law, the Constitution, and civil rights. However, I feel as though political liberalism has been lost on me and has instead developed into a very ideological form of leftism. I now feel politically homeless as a result. I really don’t support any of the major political parties.

I worked as a private practice attorney for many years, specializing in family law. In addition, I have a psychology degree and therapy experience. So, using both of them in family law was a good idea, and I found it rewarding to advocate for victims of domestic abuse. I even put in pro bono hours in that field because I hated it in private practice when clients would come in with terrible stories but lack the funds to hire attorneys. I would always die from that.

I jumped at the opportunity when my current employer had an opening because I wanted to represent victims of domestic violence without worrying about who had the money to pay and who didn’t. I thought it was a great opportunity for me, and I enjoy the work a lot.

Our headquarters are in Philadelphia, which regrettably has significant issues with domestic violence, poverty, and crime. People of color make up the majority of our clientele, and when George Floyd was murdered in June 2020, our office held meetings to discuss it because everyone was upset.

This led to the creation of what are now known as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) sessions, where staff members were divided into affinity groups according to their ethnicity, such as a white group and a Black group, for example. Although I was forced to go to a meeting of a white affinity group, I eventually got permission to skip it because I didn’t agree with racial segregation.

As a Jew, I also believed that being divided based on race was the last thing I wanted to experience. I didn’t think that would lead to anything worthwhile. I also thought it was very retrograde. I believed that instead of listening to one group over another and dividing ourselves into groups, we should work together more and adopt a more humanistic perspective. That, in my opinion, was the only way to deal with racism.

My organization’s strategy, in my opinion, is very polarizing and detracts from our mission. It didn’t, in my opinion, actually assist any victims of domestic violence. Additionally, I don’t believe it produced any tangible results. Therefore, a lot of time was lost, which cost money. Time is money in any organization or business, so it goes without saying.

I have vehemently opposed racism my entire life. In 2020, I joined the Racial Equity Committee at my place of employment, but over time, I discovered that the language directed at white people was incredibly dehumanizing. I also learned that the Racial Equity Audit Taskforce (“REAT”) members would receive different stipends, with Black REAT members receiving higher pay than their white counterparts. That seemed to violate US civil rights laws and be both wrong and illegal.

It was argued that because we work with people of color, we must approach their representation in particular ways. But I don’t like people telling me how to think. And it was very worrying that you couldn’t disagree with this ideology without being singled out. It also raised a lot of red flags for me.

I once asked the company to add an article on anti-Semitism to its anti-racism resources, which also included data on Islamophobia and other prejudices faced by minorities. My appeal was turned down. I was informed that the choice to omit this information had been made in the past.

My company claims to have spoken out against anti-Semitism, but when I responded to an email about the topic, it started a huge firestorm in which my motives and timing were questioned. Some people even suggested that I was highlighting Black anti-Semitic perpetrators in order to create discord. I found this to be incredibly unfair. Why shouldn’t the DEI debate include the religious community that is most frequently the target of hate crimes in America? Why is it that concentrating on the suffering of one community makes it impossible to concentrate on others?

White supremacy is described as “a smog we all ingest” in one of the trainings I received, while another discussed how our organization was complicit in systemic racism and white supremacy. It was assumed that anyone who is white is racist. The “Full Value Contract” that was sent to me via email even included a clause requiring me to “Own that all white people are racist and that I am not the exception.”

Our conduct during Legal Center meetings was supposed to be governed by the “Full Value Contract.” The rest of this “Full Value Contract,” in my opinion, was fine. However, there was one line that implied that I was not an outlier and that all white people were racist. I only had that one objection.

Being lawyers, we examine language and take word meaning seriously. We won’t stop doing that either. I consequently objected to the use of words that I believed would cause division.

Eventually, I was informed that I had to go to a meeting with the DEI consultant present, which my company believes was offered as a substitute for returning to the white affinity group. I opted to go to the meeting with the consultant from DEI. Although my employer refers to the meeting as an opportunity to support me, I would describe it as an attempt to reform my thoughts. I recall that the purpose of the meeting was to determine whether it would be safe for me to interact with clients and colleagues of color.

I paid attention to the instruction. But I didn’t follow a philosophy that I considered to be racist. Through what I perceived to be more racism, I don’t think racism can be fixed. As far as I’m concerned, disparaging people who aren’t of color won’t help end racism against Black and brown people.

America is not, in my opinion, a racist nation. We may not have always stayed true to our ideals, in my opinion. And there is a ton of work to be done. But I don’t believe that our nation is inherently racist. I think there is some validity to the 1619 Project. But it’s not entirely accurate in terms of what this nation stands for. Additionally, it was stated as fact in some of our training sessions regarding America. How is that helpful in an office setting when there are no other opposing viewpoints being presented?

I want to eradicate racism because I am aware that it exists. I don’t deny that racism exists when I claim that America is not a racist nation. It is present. I don’t, however, personally support Ibram X. I don’t think Kendi’s concept of anti-racism, which contends that the only way to address current anti-racist discrimination is by addressing past racist discrimination, is going to eradicate racism. by putting various identities up against one another. That is not, in my opinion, how things should be done in this nation. Additionally, I think a lot of what I went through violated civil rights laws because I’m a lawyer.

Therefore, I have complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about my employer, claiming they are racist for asking only white people to agree to a “Full Value Contract,” or set of standards, in the workplace. I think that both the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are being broken here. No race, not even white people, may be used as a scapegoat for any reason. A racially hostile environment is one in which stereotypes, discrimination, and the scapegoating of one race are constantly propagated, and that is what I believe I encountered.

I didn’t want to do this, but I do feel like I was forced to because of the situation. I really enjoy my work, so I don’t want to endanger it. But I felt that eventually I had to speak up in order to maintain my integrity. It turned into a matter of defending myself.

I would definitely take action if I knew my clients had encountered racism and there was something I could do about it. If I came across a case of racism, I would take action, but I haven’t.

I get along well with my clients who are people of color. I do my best to stand in their place. And I receive a lot of encouraging comments. My interactions with my Black coworkers were always positive and cordial. I really have no idea how it is right now; it appears to be professional, but I have no idea how it feels on the inside. As long as we can all work together professionally, do our jobs, and serve our clients, I won’t look into it.

I think a more humanistic approach that didn’t categorize us would be preferable; one that, in my opinion, doesn’t dehumanize, stereotype, or scapegoat one race over another, or attribute traits to one race over another. something that fosters interpersonal harmony.

I support some anti-racism ideologies, including Sheena Mason’s Theory of Racelessness. These programs, in my opinion, unite people rather than dividing them. And in my opinion, there is no other way to achieve true anti-racism.

Both white people and people of color have contacted me and said they are experiencing the same issue or have gone through a similar situation. They expressed gratitude to me for speaking up and claimed that I had greatly aided them. Of course, I’ve also received a lot of comments that are extremely critical. However, it’s not a bad thing that I’m hardening up.

I want racism eliminated everywhere it exists. Simply put, I don’t think it’s widespread. I don’t think racism is the only factor in every disparity between groups. I believe mono-causal explanations for complex issues should be avoided.

I’ve discovered that, although doing so will cost you, it is worthwhile to stand up for your ideals.

In terms of your integrity, I believe you will pay a higher price if you choose not to. And if you stand up, it might inspire others to do the same. I hope that I handled it as kindly as I possibly could. I am aware that most people who disagree with me do so for the right reasons. because they are motivated to find a solution to a problem. My issue is that I believe the treatment I received has made the disease worse.

You can follow Philadelphia-based attorney Nicole Levitt on Twitter.@LevittNicole7.

This article’s author’s opinions are the only ones that are expressed.

As told to Jenny Haward.

Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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