After a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer sent a woke hit list email describing whites, Christians, men, and English-speakers as 'privileged', Johns Hopkins' medical faculty dean apologized to workers.
The monthly diversity digest' letter was prepared by Chief Diversity Officer Sherita Hill Golden and tweeted by End Wokeness. It prompted internet outcry and forced the school to apologize. Despite calls for her dismissal, Dr. Golden was retained. Her language was 'repudiated' by the medical faculty dean and president.
Theodore L. DeWeese, the Dead of the Medical Faculty, and Kevin W. Sowers, the President of Johns Hopkins Health System, explained: 'Every month, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity distributes a newsletter from JHM's chief diversity officer, Dr. Sherita Golden. 'Regrettably, the January edition of this newsletter, which was distributed to all Johns Hopkins Medicine employees yesterday, included a definition of privilege that runs counter to the values of our institution, and our mission and commitment to serve everyone equally. Dr Golden heard the feedback from our community, sincerely apologized, and retracted the definition. We fully support and appreciate her decision to do so, and as leaders of Johns Hopkins Medicine, we too repudiate this language.'
Critics argue that such categorizations oversimplify complex issues and risk alienating or stereotyping individuals based on their demographic characteristics. The letter has intensified discussions about the language used in diversity and inclusion initiatives, with some expressing concerns about the potential divisive impact such classifications might have on fostering an inclusive environment.
In the email, Dr. Golden explains that 'privilege' is the 'diversity word of the month'. To explain who the phrase applies to, she offered a list. It reads: 'Privilege is characteristically invisible to people who have it. 'White people, able-bodied people, heterosexuals, cisgender people, males Christians, middle or owning class people, middle-aged people and English-speaking people,' all fit the bill, according to Golden. 'People in dominant groups often believe they have earned the privileges they enjoy or that everyone could have access to these privileges if only they worked to earn them.'
In an era where conversations around privilege and diversity are crucial, this incident raises questions about the strategies employed in communicating these concepts. It underscores the importance of nuanced and careful language to avoid unintentionally alienating or stigmatizing any group within the community.
Her email continued... 'In fact, privileges are unearned and are granted to people in the dominant groups whether they want those privileges or not, and regardless of their stated intent.' Among those to condemn the remarks was Elon Musk, who tweeted: 'This must end!' Donald Trump Jr. said: 'The rot and racism in higher education goes so much further Harvard, MIT, and Penn (my alma mater) it has taken over virtually every institution and needs to end now.' After the post went viral on Twitter, Golden issued an apology to staff.
As reactions continue to pour in, Dr. Sherita Hill Golden and the institution face the challenge of addressing the concerns raised by those who feel targeted or marginalized by the content of the letter. The incident prompts reflection on the evolving dynamics of diversity discussions and the imperative for inclusive language that respects the diverse perspectives within any community.
In her apology, she said, 'The newsletter included a definition of the word privilege which, upon reflection, I deeply regret. The intent of the newsletter is to inform and support an inclusive community at Hopkins, but the language of this definition clearly did not meet that goal. 'In fact, because it was overly simplistic and poorly worded, it had the opposite effect.' 'I retract and disavow the definition I shared and I am sorry.'