Smith College staffer resigns citing 'racially hostile environment' created by critical race theory

Jodi Shaw was a staffer at Smith College in Massachusetts. Last October, Shaw became a kind of whistleblower when she posted a video on YouTube describing some of the experiences she was having at the school.

“I really don’t want to be making videos. I don’t want my face on a video camera but I’ve been put in a position where I had to do this,” Shaw said. She added that she was speaking for a lot of staff members who felt the same way but who were afraid to speak up about it. And then Shaw, who is white, read a statement which began, “I ask that Smith College stop reducing my personhood to a racial category.” She was trying to start a conversation about the impact critical race theory, aka wokeism, was having on staffers at the school. Here’s the full video:

Shaw’s video caught the attention of Tucker Carlson who had her on his show in November to talk about how things changed at Smith College. In the clip below Shaw explains it started with an allegation made by a black student against a white staffer back in 2018. From there the school launched a series of often mandatory training sessions based on critical race theory. As Shaw describes, that included Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility which frames any reluctance or discomfort at these discussions as a white power play to escape accountability.

Shaw responded to critics of that appearance in a subsequent video. “For those of us on the left, the question we should be asking ourselves is not ‘Why did Jodi go on Tucker Carlson?’ but ‘Why are news outlets like CNN and MSNBC not giving Jodi a platform to talk about these things?’ I think that’s the issue,” she said. Meanwhile, the school began getting emails from alumni calling for Shaw to be fired for appearing on Fox News with Carlson.

Last month, Shaw was called into a virtual meeting with a dean of the school and a person from human resources. During the meeting the dean read from a statement saying that Shaw’s actions were having a negative impact on her colleagues. The HR person then accused her of making a negative comment about student affinity houses on campus, i.e. campus housing for black and POC students. Shaw said she didn’t recall ever having made a comment about the housing but in any case the HR person then moved on to the fact that Shaw had forwarded some of the critical emails from alumni (the ones demanding she be fired) to her home account. Shaw said she did that in case she later needed to file a lawsuit over it. But it turned out one of those emails mentioned a current student by name and because of that HR was launching an investigation. Shaw was placed on leave until it was completed.

She was later offered a settlement in exchange for her silence on these issues but she rejected that, even though it would have been significant for her personally (she’s a divorced mother of two). Yesterday, Shaw resigned her position at the school. She sent a copy of her resignation letter to Bari Weiss who published it in full. Here’s a bit of it:

I am writing to notify you that effective today, I am resigning from my position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life at Smith College. This has not been an easy decision, as I now face a deeply uncertain future. As a divorced mother of two, the economic uncertainty brought about by this resignation will impact my children as well. But I have no choice. The racially hostile environment that the college has subjected me to for the past two and a half years has left me physically and mentally debilitated. I can no longer work in this environment, nor can I remain silent about a matter so central to basic human dignity and freedom…

Under the guise of racial progress, Smith College has created a racially hostile environment in which individual acts of discrimination and hostility flourish. In this environment, people’s worth as human beings, and the degree to which they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, is determined by the color of their skin. It is an environment in which dissenting from the new critical race orthodoxy — or even failing to swear fealty to it like some kind of McCarthy-era loyalty oath — is grounds for public humiliation and professional retaliation.

I can no longer continue to work in an environment where I am constantly subjected to additional scrutiny because of my skin color. I can no longer work in an environment where I am told, publicly, that my personal feelings of discomfort under such scrutiny are not legitimate but instead are a manifestation of white supremacy. Perhaps most importantly, I can no longer work in an environment where I am expected to apply similar race-based stereotypes and assumptions to others, and where I am told — when I complain about having to engage in what I believe to be discriminatory practices — that there are “legitimate reasons for asking employees to consider race” in order to achieve the college’s “social justice objectives.”

What passes for “progressive” today at Smith and at so many other institutions is regressive. It taps into humanity’s worst instincts to break down into warring factions, and I fear this is rapidly leading us to a very twisted place. It terrifies me that others don’t seem to see that racial segregation and demonization are wrong and dangerous no matter what its victims look like. Being told that any disagreement or feelings of discomfort somehow upholds “white supremacy” is not just morally wrong. It is psychologically abusive.

Equally troubling are the many others who understand and know full well how damaging this is, but do not speak out due to fear of professional retaliation, social censure, and loss of their livelihood and reputation.

Unfortunately, Shaw’s case provides a pretty clear object lesson of what happens when you take issue with the critical race theory being spread by college administrators and student activists. But that’s not quite the end of the story. Shaw set up a GoFundMe account which has already raised several times the annual $44k salary she was making at Smith College. Hopefully she’ll continue to speak up about her experience and give some courage to others in the same position.

Update: Peter Boghossian suggests someone should buy ad space and print the entire resignation letter in the Smith College newspaper. Shaw could probably afford to do that now.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022
David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022