It is possible to challenge woke excesses in quiet and polite ways

Wokeism doesn’t always involve huge, hard-charging institutions or whacked out leftists, and pushback doesn’t always have to be brutal and ugly. In New Jersey, a small community college thought it should segregate meetings by race. In response to low-key pushback (because do you see any blaring headlines?), the college reversed its decision. That’s how things can and should work, without screaming and hatred.

Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC) is what it says it is: A community college located in New Jersey’s Atlantic County, as well as Cape May County. An employee anonymously sent an email to Seth Grossman, at Liberty and Prosperity blog, saying that the community college was segregating its staff focus groups by race and doing so in a way that non-minority staff would receive less money for their time at the meeting.

Here’s the notice:

Image from Liberty and Prosperity.

The relevant language states as follows:

We are also excited to share that the ATD [Achieving the Dream] team will be on our Mays Landing Campus January 26 and 27, 2023. During their time here, division meetings are scheduled to discuss leveling equity as it relates to both instruction and student services.

In addition to the “leveling equity” meetings, ATD will host focus group meetings to discuss the results of the Climate Survey, which staff/students completed December 2021. If your schedule allows, please join us for the following focus groups:

Staff who identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, or Pacific Islanders: Thursday, January 26th | 3 p.m | B209

Staff who do not identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, or Pacific Islanders: Friday, January 27th | 4 p.m | B209

(Achieving the Dream, in case you’re wondering, is an organization that works with community colleges to “transform” them “to ensure all students can access learning that propels them into rewarding careers.” A lot of what they process sounds like gobbledy-gook to me: “We provide institutions with integrated, tailored support for every aspect of their work — from foundational capacities such as leadership, data, and equity to intentional strategies for supporting students holistically, building K-12 partnerships, and more.” Words such as “equity” and “antiracist” often appear on their site. I don’t need to do a deep dive to know that ATD is bringing leftist values to community colleges.)

Image: Atlantic Cape Community College, May Campus, by Sasae86. CC BY-SA 4.0.

But back to that announcement. I have no idea if the segregated meeting idea emanated from the college itself or from ATD, and I’m not going to speculate.

What we do know from the anonymous whistleblower is that the differently timed meetings (the minority-only meeting at 3; the Whites-only meeting at 4) have real-world consequences. Seth Grossman writes:

This anonymous source, claiming to be an ACCC employee, wrote that because the paid workday ends at 4:30 pm, the group that meets Thursday at 3pm will be paid for most of their attendance at the “focus group meeting”.  However, the group that meets at 4pm on Friday will be paid only for thirty minutes of their time.

I have no intention of lambasting ACCC for it’s initial decision-making. This is what all of academia, from the rancid Ivy Towers and massive state universities to small community colleges like ACCC, are doing. Some do it out of conviction; some because they’re sheep.

What I want to talk about is the fact that sunlight has again proven to be the best disinfectant. Burned by the Aretha Franklin hoax, I called ACCC. In response to my question about whether the notice was real, a woman in the personnel department tersely replied that, yes, it’s real, “but it was a mistake, and we’re retracting it.” End of conversation because that was all that needed to be said.

That’s a perfect outcome. Whether out of ignorance, because of principle, or because everyone does it, ACCC decided to segregate its employees. When people learned about this and objected, ACCC saw the error of its ways and changed its approach. It’s to be congratulated for doing the right thing. We should always celebrate when disputes get resolved in a civil fashion.

The whole thing is a great lesson for those of us who prefer a country in which institutions do not put their thumbs on the racial (or sexual identity or gender or whatever) scale: If we make our displeasure known, politely and in a non-threatening way, the average community institution will see the light and back off. Our voices still count, and that’s a wonderful thing.

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