Racial Segregation in Seattle

by Christopher Paslay

The King County Library System’s fixation on skin color is quite ironic.

According to the King County Library System, there is rampant racism within their libraries. So much so that KCLS officials were forced to bring in Racial Equity Consultants, which in turn held racially segregated “listening sessions” to help root out systemic oppression.  These sessions were marked with pre-civil rights era signs which read DEI Session People of Color, and DEI Session People Who Are White.

A picture of the signs recently went viral on Twitter.

Christopher Rufo, a writer for the City Journal, reported the story:

At the King County Library System, a private consulting firm called Racial Equity Consultants recently held racially segregated “listening sessions.” The consultants “begin with an anti-oppression framework,” internal documents show, and they use segregated sessions to root out “institutional privileges and systemic inequities.” Widespread “institutional racism” is said to exist in the libraries, and employees who reject that premise are accused of “internalized racism.” When reached by e-mail, Racial Equity Consultants said that it was not authorized to comment.

The story prompted the KCLS to deny accusations of segregation, stating it was misinformation. “In 2019, under the guidance of our consultants, Racial Equity Consultants (REC), we provided caucused listening sessions for staff to help inform REC’s institutional racial equity assessment work,” the statement read in part. “These listening sessions were voluntary for staff and designed to gather information to help us better understand institutional racial equity concerns . . .”

Under REC’s “services” is something called “Racial Caucusing.” This is where “members work separately in their respective identity groups as either POC or White people,” their website states. “In racial caucus, POC and White people learn to work towards dismantling racism from their separate and particular positionality.” 

Separate — and segregated — positions. 

Racial Caucusing involves separating whites and people of color into “affinity groups” based on race, where POC are asked to reflect on their Internalized Racial Oppression, and whites are asked to reflect on Internalized Racial superiority. Some questions posed to whites are:

  • How was I socialized by IRS?
  • How do you collude with white culture in your institution/team at meetings, in organizing, during your day? 
  • How is white supremacy reflected in your institution/team?

Recently, at the urging of President Trump, the Department of Justice began investigating the City of Seattle for such trainings. Amazingly, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stood by these workshops. 

“This is a stunning illustration of the administration’s warped priorities,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a recent statement. “In the midst of a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism and police violence, (the administration) is considering suing the City of Seattle for a training we provide that specifically seeks to combat racism and advance equity.”

Joe Biden, in the first Debate with President Trump, claimed these workshops are simply “benign sensitivity training.” 

But reality paints a different picture. A leaked video from a 2017 Seattle training shows facilitator Ashleigh Shackelford, a Black Lives Matter activist and organizer, disparaging whites in attendance. 

U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has argued that racially segregated training sessions violate the 1964 Equal Employment Opportunity act, which prohibits employers from segregating employees based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”  

The KCLS’s fixation on skin color is quite ironic.  Named after Martin Luther King, Jr., the county is still judging its people by the color of their skin, and ignoring the content of their character. 

Dr. King is probably rolling over in his grave. 

Click here to watch the companion video, which provides additional commentary and video clips on the topic. 

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