Fired black diversity official sues California college over policies that attack ‘whiteness,’ require minorities to be stereotypically woke

Fired black diversity official sues California college over policies that attack ‘whiteness,’ require minorities to be stereotypically woke

State colleges in California are so woke even some diversity bureaucrats can’t stand it. A black former diversity official is suing a community college in California’s Silicon Valley, a place where college officials said “White gays and lesbians” were not welcome in its LGBT center, called Jews “White oppressors” and rejected repeated requests to address antisemitism, and forced instructors to parrot a “land acknowledgment” that misidentified local indigenous tribes, according to a former diversity official.

Tabia Lee brought a First Amendment lawsuit against Foothill-DeAnza Community College District and college officials after they declined to renew her contract this spring, which she alleges was in retaliation for challenging its “empty ‘antiracism’ gesture[s]” that perpetuate racial stereotypes such as the “noble savage” and for acting like “an ‘uppity’ Black woman.”

College officials effectively shut Lee out of the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education where she had served as tenure-track faculty director since fall 2021 and “censored” her when she filed grievances, according to her complaint in the lawsuit.

As Just the News notes, “One of her transgressions was letting students ask Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza spontaneous questions at a campus event.”

College officials used forbidden rationales to not renew Lee’s contract on June 30. They relied on a few negative tenure review evaluations that turned on her criticism of racially segregated affinity groups and her opposition to the “cultural imperialism” of words invented by woke white people, like Latinx and Filipinx. Meanwhile, college officials ignored the fact that she got positive evaluations from students.

Even then, “of the twenty-eight scores assigned to Dr. Lee by her evaluators,” only one was “unsatisfactory” and 22 were the “highest possible rating,” notes her complaint in the lawsuits. “She questioned an orthodoxy. It cost her her job,” the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, which is sponsoring Lee’s lawsuit, said Thursday.

The suit alleges violations of the First Amendment, the California state constitution’s free-speech clause, the California Labor Code, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for forcing Lee to “project hostile stereotypes of Black Americans” in official duties and punishing her for not satisfying racial stereotypes, such as supposedly not being the “right kind of Black person.” (Requiring a person to meet racial or sexual stereotypes can violate the Supreme Court’s decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (1989)).

Chancellor Judy Miner’s declaration in December that the Community College system’s official policy is “de-centering whiteness” – a talismanic phrase repeatedly invoked to Lee – created a “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” hostile environment, she alleges.

Lee had already endured a “struggle session” led by racial affinity groups, which had recently been given “special voting rights in the Academic Senate,” at a board of trustees meeting six months earlier. In response, she called for demographic groups without college-provided affinity groups to have the same “resources.”

De Anza compelled Lee to take a webinar on de-centering whiteness soon after she was hired. She had assumed its “racist message” was “only one of the many diverse perspectives” on campus, but she soon learned to her dismay that it was the “orthodoxy enforced” by the college.

A month after she was hired, she witnessed the faculty coordinator of the Women, Gender and Sexuality (now Pride) Center dismiss a complaint that whites don’t feel “welcome” there.

“I am not trying to make this a space for White gays and lesbians” because they “have the whole campus already,” said coordinator Francesca Caparas. Lee’s program coordinator, Tony Santa Ana, agreed the “whole center is for people of color.”

As Just the News reports:

Lee’s first report to the Academic Senate and its distribution to campus put a target on her back, according to the suit.

She shared a dispute with an unidentified colleague “I highly respect” who said Lee’s advocacy for “ideologically inclusive” governance was a hindrance to “anti-racist work,” and Lee called for “protecting Academic Freedom for all.”

Associate Vice President of Instruction Lydia Hearn, who would later serve on her tenure review committee and write a negative evaluation, warned her that even referring to this colleague was unprofessional, Lee claims.

The college steadily marginalized Lee from her official functions, with Dean of Equity and Engagement Alicia Cortez ordering the removal of Lee’s events from the college events calendar and delisting her events as qualifying for continuing education credits. The college also stripped its official primatur from her “presentations and pedagogical materials,” the suit states.

Her administrative assistant, Adriana Garcia, “repeatedly locked” the office’s website so Lee could not post “content on topics of public concern,” and Cortez unilaterally told Lee in February she was no longer department chair of the office, preventing her from meeting with faculty on Academic Senate topics.

Lee’s concern for Jewish campus members provoked hostility, she claims. She reported professor Cynthia Kaufman – another subsequent tenure committee review member – for organizing “suppression of Jewish events,” with no resulting investigation by Cortez, yet the dean and Lee’s own staff “obstructed” her from hosting workshops on Jewish culture and heritage.

Cortez shot down her suggestions that the college recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Jewish-American Heritage Month and condemn antisemitism on its website, according to Lee.

In an Equity Action Council meeting with the local Hillel to discuss antisemitism complaints, Garcia shared “resources about anti-Zionist and anti-Israel organizations,” the suit states.

When Lee later objected, Garcia justified the instigation by referring to Jews as “White oppressors,” which Cortez did not dispute. Even though Lee was faculty lead on the council, they removed her from future meetings.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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