Harriet Alexander, Daily Mail, October 29, 2021
White employees of AT&T have been told to read an article saying that they are racist, are told to confess to their ‘white privilege’ and acknowledge ‘systemic racism,’ and must engage with set texts or else they will be penalized in their performance reviews.
AT&T, in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, introduced an internal program called Listen Understand Act.
John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T, wrote to the company’s 230,000 employees in an April 2021 email, obtained by journalist Christopher Rufo and published on his website.
Stankey, who took over as CEO in July 2020, urged his workers to make the most of the resources provided by AT&T’s anti-racism portal.
‘As individuals, we can make a difference by doing our part to advance racial equity and justice for all,’ he wrote.
‘If you are looking for tools to better educate and inform yourself on racial equality, resources are available at Listen. Understand. Act.
‘We also encourage you to actively participate in our recently launched Equality First learning experience, a new initiative to increase awareness and action around our value to Stand for Equality.’
Most employees are not forced to engage with the Listen Understand Act program, but managers at AT&T are now assessed annually on diversity issues – with mandatory participation in programs such as discussion groups, book clubs, mentorship programs, and race reeducation exercises, according to Rufo’s source.
The source told Rufo that employees are asked to sign a loyalty pledge to ‘keep pushing for change.’ They are encouraged to sign up to ‘intentions’ such as ‘reading more about systemic racism’ and ‘challenging others’ language that is hateful.’
The source, described as a senior employee, said: ‘If you don’t do it, you’re a racist.’
Rufo published several pages from the Listen Understand Act portal.
One of the recommended reading items was a May 31, 2020 article from the Chicago Tribune by columnist Dahleen Glanton, entitled: ‘White America, if you want to know who’s responsible for racism, look in the mirror.’
The article claims that America is a ‘racist society’ and says ‘white people are the problem’.
‘Regardless of how much you say you detest racism, you are the sole reason it has flourished for centuries,’ Glanton writes.
She adds that ‘American racism is a uniquely white trait and that black people cannot be racist’.
It continues that white women ‘have been telling lies on black men since they were first brought to America in chains’ and they ‘enjoy the opportunities and privileges that white supremacy affords them’ and ‘if you are white, you must look in the mirror, feel a sense of guilt, and move out of the way.’
The portal also recommended books such as White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo, and White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White, by Daniel Hill.
In the ‘Act’ section of the training program, Rufo reported, AT&T encourages employees to participate in a ’21-Day Racial Equity Habit Challenge’.
The plan, he said, relies on the concepts of ‘whiteness,’ ‘white privilege,’ and ‘white supremacy’ and those participating must commit to ‘do one action [per day for 21 days] to further [their] understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity.’
The challenge begins with a series of lessons on ‘whiteness,’ which claims, among other things, that ‘white supremacy [is] baked into our country’s foundation,’ that ‘Whiteness is one of the biggest and most long-running scams ever perpetrated,’ and that the ‘weaponization of whiteness’ creates a ‘constant barrage of harm’ for minorities.
Participants are told: ‘Notice your biases and judgments as they arise. These are gold for you to excavate your subconscious!’
Among the suggestions are items such as: ‘Prepare yourself to interrupt racial jokes. Click HERE for some advice about how.’
The authors of the 21 Day Challenge state: ‘We think understanding white privilege is a powerful lens into the complexities of doing social justice work, so we’ve focused our resources on that specific issue.’
An AT&T spokesman told DailyMail.com that Rufo’s report was ‘misleading’ and ‘filled with misinformation and inaccuracies’.
‘Our goal is to build a workplace that is civil, inclusive and understanding,’ the spokesman said.
‘The misleading City Journal post is filled with misinformation and inaccuracies, including the ridiculous claim that we require employees to participate in ‘race reeducation’ exercises. This is blatantly untrue.
‘We simply provide employees with resources they can use on a voluntary basis to facilitate conversations that are important to them, our customers and the communities we serve.
‘Whether an employee uses these resources or not is up to them, and does not affect their annual performance rating.
‘We have a long and proud history of valuing diversity, equality, and inclusion, and will continue to do so.’
On August 23, as part of a comprehensive review of corporate America’s anti-racist activities, The Washington Post reported that AT&T had made lobbying for police reform part of some of their employee’s job.
AT&T’s Western region president, Ken McNeely, told the paper that employees in the legislative and public affairs teams had the lobbying for police reform included in their annual review.
‘Our financial contributions to support police reform is but a slice of the pie,’ McNeely said, after the paper reported AT&T donated $21.5 million to causes advocating racial justice.