In October 2020, administrative assistant Jodi Shaw posted a video on Youtube talking about the “toxic wokeness” and atmosphere of racial discrimination at Massachusetts’ Smith College. The college forced staff to take “antiracist” trainings after a Smith College student accused a security officer of racial profiling and approaching her for “eating while black.”
The student, Oumou Kanoute, had been eating lunch in the Tyler House dormitory cafeteria, which was not supposed to be used by student workers and something veteran cafeteria employee Jackie Blair reportedly mentioned to her. After getting her food, she’d moved to the living room and sprawled out on the couch reading a book. The janitor, who didn’t have his glasses at the time, said the person on the couch seemed out of place and called in a report that an “older male party, possible sleeping in that location.”
The officer who arrived recognized Kanoute and asked why she was eating there, but said he did not believe to be impolite. Kanoute said it was “unfortunate” people call the police on people of color and said she was “pretty shaken up.” She later wrote about the experience on Facebook and said she’d been “misgendered” and that her existence overall as a woman of color was being questioned.
She also included a photograph of Mark Patenaude – a Smith janitor of 21 years – who had worked an early shift and was not involved in the incident.
Because of the report, the janitor had been placed on administrative leave and both Patenaude and Blair reported health issues due to the stress of the situation. A firm found that Kanoute had not been misgendered by the janitor or that the call to security had anything to do with her race.
Shaw said that very incident set the liberal-arts college off in a direction that assumed every white member at Smith college was racist. In a resignation letter to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, she writes that it taps into humanity’s “worst instincts” and said she fears it is leading to a “very twisted place.”
“Every day, I watch my colleagues manage student conflict through the lens of race, projecting rigid assumptions and stereotypes on students, thereby reducing them to the color of their skin. I am asked to do the same, as well as to support a curriculum for students that teaches them to project those same stereotypes and assumptions onto themselves and others,” she writes.
Shaw goes on to say that staff and faculty at the college are too terrified to speak out about it and the final straw came in January 2020 when she was required to respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity. She said she didn’t feel comfortable talking about that, and later on, the facilitator told everyone that “a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of ‘white fragility.’”
Democrats are advocating an environment where people are subjected to scrutiny because of their skin color and told that personal feelings of discomfort aren’t legitimate. It’s not a “social justice objective,” it’s a political attack.