Backlash on Diversity & Inclusion: Chloe Valdary’s Racist ‘Anti-Racism’
A BIWOC’s Personal Narrative Experience in the IT World
I was recently at a casual get-together with some women (BIWOCs) I had not seen in several years. During this time, one of them expressed her alarm at the suggestion that an alleged ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ group, run by a conservative Black woman named Chloe Valdary, would be adopted by Human Resources and employees at her company would be forced to attend. During these presentations, the alleged ‘diversity and inclusion’ benefits of Valdary’s conservative approach were peddled to a group of people in a preliminary meeting, a committee composed of some human resources members as well as several employees such as our friend. This committee was mostly white with a minority of people of color.
As our friend does not have a Medium account and only relays these stories to us as a form of BIWOC self-care, to vent her frustrations, we are posting these details on our collective site under this pseudonym in the hopes that it will be useful to other women of color, especially ones who remain in the system of corporate white supremacy and do not have the ability to leave.
As background information, this woman is first-generation American of mixed Chinese-white descent, identifies as BIWOC, and works at an IT-based consulting corporation. Generally, these IT settings are male-dominated and include a small number of BIWOCs, typically immigrants from other countries. The standards are straightforward: performance is easily quantified because the goal is to write code that works. If the code is written incorrectly, the person is not performing. There is little room for goal-post moving and nepotism because the inability to perform is obvious.
During this meeting, my friend became increasingly worried and dismayed at the general thematic thrust of these proposed alleged ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ measures.
In summary, here are her concerns as well as those of several women of color she works with, as reported by her to us in retrospect:
1. African-Americans were ‘scolded.’
Both my friend and one of her African-American colleagues felt that Valdary’s approach uses white ‘signaling’ to protect white people as a group. That is, she seemed to promote the idea that ‘white people shouldn’t feel guilty’ rather than focusing on the lack of opportunity faced by BIPOCs due to white privilege. Valdary’s approach seemed to prioritize white comfort over reality. In addition, they felt that she promoted this idea of ‘forgiveness’ of white people, which the African-American colleague perceived as ‘scolding.’ This ‘forgiveness’ peddling is common in many settings and, in my opinion, is much more obvious than white people think: when white people speak about ‘forgiveness,’ they seem to be giving advice when instead, they should be addressing their own privilege and racism.
were promoted and even lauded rather than exposed. From our perspective as this group of BIPOCs, equivocations — making our UNDER-resourced realities the ‘same’ as white people’s OVER-resourced realities — are damaging. When white people ‘equivocate,’ they do so only by erasing our oppression. She felt that Valdary’s approach equivocates by recommending that BIPOCs ‘feel sorry’ for white supremacy: that is, cater to white comfort at the expenses of exposing our realities.
At this juncture, according to our friend, the African-American woman (she could not attend our group meeting) called Valdary a ‘Botham-hugger and bottom-feeder’ who ‘doesn’t care about African-American equality.’ Our friend explained that the AfAm woman felt silenced by Valdary’s approach.
In general, ‘equivocations’ deny BIPOC reality in order to make white people feel comfortable, which will not result in any changes in white supremacy. When white people erase their privilege and the fact that it comes at BIPOC expense, they also erase our oppression.
Hypocrisy cannot be the basis of equality. When the stated goal is ‘equality.’ our continued oppression cannot be the basis of ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’
3. ACTIVE Denigration of Collective/Statistical Realities
Both women felt that Valdary’s approach ACTIVELY erased the group behavior of white people, which becomes more and more obvious at higher levels in the corporation which are dominated by white people. One of the core problems is the refusal of white people to see themselves as part of a group that subordinates others and to defer all experience to ‘individuality.’ The other is the choice to NOT see their sociopolitical advantage as a group, one of the main reasons white supremacy continues.
The reality is that BIWOCS do not receive ‘individuality’ from the larger society: we are stereotyped and demeaned. When that collective dimension is obscured, BIWOC oppression is obscured as well, and as she pointed out, white people are coddled. This reifies white supremacy, the opposite of ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’
Her proposal that the corporation look directly at actual statistics was obscured under this rubric of ‘love’ which, upon further evaluation, maintains ‘love’ for white people only.
4. Use of Euphemisms
Note: Euphemisms indicate some degree of linguistic deception regardless of the setting; they are rhetorical weapons.
‘Individuality’ is a euphemism when it is applied universally, because it is only granted to white people. White people get individuality (genuinely), BIPOCS don’t. Therefore, when ‘individuality’ is used to describe BIPOCs, it is a euphemism: it is not accurate.
Large-scale statistical realities which reveal the bigger picture, often demoted by using the negatively-charged euphemism ‘quota,’ were further demoted with euphemisms that erased sociopolitical realities for BIPOCs (reveals our UNDER-representation AND their resulting OVER-representation).
Avoidance of Zero-Sum Realities: these tactics seem absurd to many women of color who have had to compete at higher levels, because there are ALWAYS more people who want the higher-level position than there are positions. That is called ZERO-SUM. White people are almost always in these positions, often regardless of lower performance, which deprives higher-performing BIPOCs. The reality in highly competitive spaces is that demand exceeds supply, so if white people are favoring each other –which they do — then zero-sum benefits them AND it does so at BIPOC expenses. We live this: Valdary’s ‘enchantment’ fantasy cannot erase our minute-to-minute experiences.
The only reason to obscure ‘zero-sum’ realities is to make those people who benefit from them comfortable about the fact that others are deprived in order to make it easy for them.
Euphemisms are typical strategic blunders of those who exhibit linguistic deception.
5. Faux -‘Love’ and Pseudo-‘Enchantment’
These notions are laughable in their profound equivocation: Valdary assumes that ALL people receive ‘love’ and ‘enchantment’ from a white supremacist society when, in reality, only white people do. Valdary has practically stated that Palestinians should not exist, that they should leave their Indigenous land. She implies that she extends this highly-biased and discriminatory attitude to all ‘Arabs’ in a direct and virulent form of hatred.
Apparently, Valdary’s ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ methods do NOT include Palestinians and, to some extent, MENA peoples in general. She claims that people shouldn’t be ‘political abstractions,’ yet she proudly characterizes the Middle East, where Iraqis have been routinely murdered for decades, as ‘Arab Supremacy.’ If this isn’t a political abstraction — half a billion people classified as ‘Arab Supremacists’ when the US is actively murdering children in this region — what does qualify as a ‘political abstraction’?
Here is what some ACTUAL Jewish people think of Valdary:
“The panel did a particular disservice to the audience by including Valdary as representative of Zionism. She cast herself as an Israel-loving, settlement-promoting, expansionist extreme Zionist who disregards Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israelis. Valdary argued that Israelis lack civil rights because they cannot settle in certain areas of the West Bank, and was silent on Palestinians’ experiences of checkpoints, police raids, separate roads, and military brutality under occupation.” (J Street U, Stanford U). (https://stanforddaily.com/2014/12/02/zionism-civil-rights-and-stanford-activism-the-case-for-productive-education/).
My friend points out that Valdary’s general attitude is that WHITE people are the victims and that her idea of ‘political abstractions’ is yet another euphemism for ‘white people are victims.’ Apparently, Valdary’s approach recommends that BIWOCs like this woman who is constantly under the gun to produce more value than any of the white people around her should just feel sorry for white people, because this will fix white supremacy (?).
After listening to this story, we looked up her site on line and discussed and some of her stated goals:
Valdary’s ‘Dope’ Anti-Racism is Actually Racism, Re-Vomited
Directly from Valdary’s website, as reviewed by us as a group:
- ‘Individuals being unfairly singled-out, ostracized, and humiliated:’ My friend confirmed that Valdary seemed to ACTIVELY erase the fact that BIWOCS experience these constantly. It seemed as if Valdary thought that white people were being ‘singled-out.’
2. ‘Scarcity mentality taking root in your company culture.’ Scarcity mentality, or ‘zero-sum,’ is the reality in a capitalist country. In our positions, there is only the reality of zero-sum: one promotion that many want. One award that many want. The reality is zero-sum; to alter that, the larger system should be altered. My friend felt that this sort of ‘enchantment’ is exactly the deformation of reality that obscures white supremacy and thus keeps it functioning. Valdary does not want to focus on ‘zero-sum’ because white people benefit from it: they are OVER-represented in these higher-level spaces.
3. ‘Animosity developing among coworkers.’ Our friend stated — and we agree — that as BIWOCS we are subjected to animosity at baseline. She also felt that animosity had been directed not just to her but also to BIPOCs in general. She left the meeting feeling even more erased because the implication of the above is that when white people feel ‘animosity’ (ie, discomfort upon hearing about their unjust enrichment/privilege), then the rest of us should ‘pity’ them and accept it.
As our friend notes, if decreasing white ‘animosity’ means increasing ours, then we are maintaining white supremacy and exclusion of BIPOCs, NOT diversity or inclusion.
4. ‘You’re staff feel you’re not doing enough to address racism.’ We agree with this; the problem is that Valdary’s approach does the OPPOSITE: it allows white people to feel comfortable by obscuring their privilege.
5. ‘Treat people like human beings, not political abstractions.’ As above, it seems this courtesy is only extended to white people. The problem is that white people have ALWAYS been treated like human beings and the rest of us have almost always been treated as stereotypes, as ‘political abstractions.’ On that note, why is she so hypocritical that she scolds BIPOCS like this yet classifies half a billion peoples as pure political abstraction herself? (Her racism is on full display here: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/students-justice-palestine )
Our friend opted to leave the company. She was asked to do a formal exit interview due to the fact that she’s highly desirable as a highly-functioning BIWOC in a very male setting (IT). She explained to them that their choice to hire Valdary is worrisome to her because it signals backlash: a refusal to face historical and current realities for BIWOCS which are anything but ‘enchanting.’
These corporations are already racist at baseline, as evidenced by objective statistics which indicate an OVER-representation of white people at higher levels and an expected, accompanying UNDER-representation of BIPOCs at these levels. Why would they hire conservative, racist people of any sort, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, to run these initiatives when Valdary advocates to diminish or even erase us? I believe this is because white people think they can place a BIWOC face on racism and the rest of us will believe it.
This is not accurate. We do not believe false faces; we believe the truth beneath it, even if it is deceptive and domineering.
These are more reasons why BIWOCs should not be marching with conservative white feminists and must think about leaving the United States for places that do not frame us as untermensch, and then scold us into believing our oppression is appropriate.