This week, Leslie Miller Chislett became the fourth employee of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to bring suit against the department and its chancellor, Richard Carranza, for anti-white bias. As reported in The Federalist this past May, three other white employees engaged a like suit along similar lines earlier this year.
The latest suit highlights shocking abuses within the department and a willingness to judge and punish employees, including diminishing their responsibilities on the basis of race, which the lawsuit alleges violates New York City Human Rights Law.
The suit argues that the DOE and Carranza “have created a workplace hostile to persons on the basis of their race, namely Caucasians, by using highly offensive material and presentations to ‘train’ its employees into believing, as Carranza believes, that Caucasians are nothing more than hurtful stereotypes and are implicitly unable to care for children of other races, and by condoning the shaming, accusations and demeaning name calling of Caucasian employees because of the color of their skin.”
Chislett is a 12-year employee of the DOE and, since September 2017, has served as the executive director of Advanced Academic Access in the Office of Equity and Access (OEA). In her capacity at OEA, Chislett headed up the “AP for All” program, meant to broaden access to Advanced Placement testing throughout the city. And that is exactly what she did, meeting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of 75 percent access by February of this year. She has now left the DOE.
But as the year went along, just like the three white women in the lawsuit earlier this year, Chislett began to be targeted for harassment just because she is white. Even while doing the hard work to bring greater academic opportunity to all of New York City’s school children, including children of color, her supervisors harangued her for the fault of being white. In a statement, Chislett says the following:
Under Carranza’s administration, O.E.A. leadership has normalized an approach that interrogates “whiteness,” defines the supposed homogeneous values of whites as “supremacist and toxic” and denies safety to Caucasians by mocking them as white and “fragile” if they push back in any way when, according to the law, they clearly should too be protected.
The result of this has been the creation of an unlawful, unsafe and hostile work environment where name-calling and racialized accusations toward white supervisors are condoned. Furthermore, discrimination and retaliation toward white employees — especially white dissenters like me — is intentional.
Chislett describes a May 2019 OEA retreat as a “witch trial,” in which her colleagues stood up to verbally protest her, telling her she was unable to “do the work” — the “work” here being accepting damaging stereotypes about white people and stepping back from her position in favor of employees of color.
As in the other lawsuit, Chislett describes the mandatory equality “training” she received, hers from a group then called “Border Crossers,” now called the Center for Racial Justice in Education. The title of the training was “Talking about Equality: Creating Racially Equitable Schools.”
According to the lawsuit, Chislett was trained that in order to accomplish equity, “White colleagues must take a step back and yield to colleagues of color,” and “recognize that values of White culture are supremacist.” During a subsequent “training” titled “Beyond Diversity,” Chislett alleges she was told that “there is White toxicity in the air and we all breathe it in.”
What this lawsuit and its predecessor make clear is that there is a pervasive culture of anti-white racism within the Department of Education. And not only does Chancellor Carranza have no interest in fixing it, he is actively encouraging it. White employees who object to this radical approach to race relations and equality are told to sit down and shut up and are even demoted without reasonable cause.
But as bad as this is for the employees affected, it is that much worse for students. Progressive bigots, more interested in promoting their own woke worldview than educating kids and promoting racial harmony, are shaping students’ ideas about race and equality. Every parent with a child in the New York City public school system should be concerned about this and be grateful for educators like Chislett who are willing to lead in the fight against it.