Non-White employees for the City of Seattle were invited to an anti-racist training to explore their internalized racism and given tools on how to free themselves from White supremacy influence, new documents show.
Employees “who identify as people of color” were sent an invite to a three-hour optional training, “Internalized Racial Inferiority,” in August that excluded White people. It was conducted on Sept. 3 by the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, radio host Jason Rantz on KTTH reported Monday after filing a public disclosure request for the lesson materials.
The lesson was described as having employees explore “the process which American conditioning, socialization and history leads People of Color to internalize racialized beliefs, ideas and behaviors about themselves, undergirding the power of White Supremacy.”
The lesson taught the attendees that there are four types of racism: interpersonal, institutional, structural and internalized. The training mostly focused on the self-hate form of racism, Rantz reported, and explained that internal racial inferiority occurs when non-White staff accepts and acts out of “an inferior definition of self,” which is “given by the oppressor.”
It goes on to explain that this “inferior definition of self” is rooted in the “historical designation of one’s race” and causes people suffering with racial inferiority to take part in “self-defeating behaviors,” such as colorism, and that they often feel self-doubt, self-hate and rage.
The documents say much of this comes down to White people because they “keep the system going.”
There was also training for White employees of the city, called “Internalized Racial Superiority,” which explained they are “responsible” for racism.
The training emphasized that “this is a space where we can shed our ‘white tears,'” and attendees were taught that they send a message of superiority to others by embracing “individualism,” “perfectionism” and “intellectualization.”
“Our anger, self-righteousness and defensiveness mask fear, shame and guilt for the harm of our actions,” one point in the lesson states. As a result, Whites “show up small and inauthentic, unable to see opportunities to contribute as allies/accomplices.”
White staffers were instructed to interrupt their Whiteness in order to embrace being “racial justice advocates and organizers,” but they must first affirm their “complicity in racism.”
Rantz previously reported on the lessons after the invites were sent out in August and said many Black employees, especially within the police department, were “outraged and disgusted.”
“No one is required to attend the trainings offered by RSJI; they are completely voluntary,” Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights told Rantz when he inquired about the training. “The goal of the Internalized Racial Inferiority and Internalized Racial Superiority trainings are to provide a carefully designed educational space for City employees with varying and diverse racial identities to deepen their understanding of systemic racism and learn about the roles they can play in advancing racial equity. The trainings are led and guided by RSJI staff.”
The Race and Social Justice Initiative in the city aims to create an “anti-racist network within City government,” and various trainings have been in place since 2018.
The initiative also outlines 10 “truths” that must be accepted by employees, which include, “colonialism is at the root of white supremacy,” “Racism is based on the legal and social construction of whiteness” and “Government has a responsibility to be anti-racist.”