400 woke Penn State professors sign letter BACKING ‘antiracist faculty’, BASH colleague’s discrimination lawsuit

More than 400 Pennsylvania State University professors have signed onto a letter that pledges their support for the college’s “antiracist faculty” in the wake of a discrimination lawsuit brought by a former professor at the college’s Abington campus.

“Educational institutions nationwide are facing attacks from reactionaries who claim that curricula, programs, and initiatives aimed at promoting inclusivity and equity are racist and divisive,” the letter begins. “They argue that acknowledging historical and systemic injustices, recognizing privilege, and providing students with opportunities to learn about a diversity of cultures and peoples, infringes upon freedom of expression and makes some people feel uncomfortable.”

“Ironically,” it continues, “these claims come from the same people who often seek to suppress freedom of expression by banning books and curricula, specifically targeting diversity, inclusion, and equity programs in schools and universities – all while portraying themselves as victims of ‘reverse-racism.'”

As BizPac Review reported in June, former English professor Zack De Piero, who taught at the Abington campus between 2018 and 2022, filed a lawsuit against Penn State with The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), alleging that the school discriminated against him because of his race and his objections to “race-based dogma.”

According to the complaint, De Piero and the Penn State faculty were forced to watch a video titled “White Teachers are a Problem,” which warned educators that even seemingly innocuous things like correcting grammar could actually be a form of violence because “white English  … kills people of color.”

Then Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Equity Alina Wong held a faculty meeting following the 2020 death of George Floyd in which she allegedly discussed “systemic racism” and “police supremacy” before asking attendees to perform a breathing exercise.

“Wong identified white faculty as somehow privileged because they could ‘breathe’ while George Floyd could not,” according to the lawsuit. “Wong identified ‘those of us with privileged racial identities’ who ‘need to sit in it longer’ and she led the faculty in a breathing exercise in which she instructed the ‘White and non-Black people of color to hold it a little longer — to feel the pain.'”

In the letter, the signees bash De Pierro, FAIR, and the notion that “antiracist Penn State faculty” engage in “discriminatory behavior,” claiming that the university is “but one such target” of the “effort” to push back against the divisive and clearly racist characterizations of white people.

That effort, the letter claims, is “led and funded by a powerful entity whose mission is to end antiracist programs in higher education. Their latest polemic masquerading as a lawsuit accuses antiracist Penn State faculty, staff, and administrators of suppressing freedom of speech and engaging in discriminatory behavior.”

The letter describes FAIR’s mission as one that “entails undermining all things it considers ‘woke,’ largely by seeking to paint antiracists as ‘the real racists.'”

“Through divisive, fabricated arguments, this group attempts to undermine and vilify faculty members who have dedicated their careers to challenging systemic racism in higher education while creating a welcoming environment for historically marginalized groups,” the letter states. “To achieve their spurious goals, these reactionary forces have sought to weaponize the courts.”

The signatories virtuously signaled their unwavering commitment to “diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).”

“We, faculty from higher education institutions across the United States, stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Penn State who have embraced ongoing efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), which must be in addition to, not a substitute for, affirmative action and antiracist programs and policies,” they vow. “We understand the stakes of this lawsuit, which regardless of its outcome will have a chilling effect on DEIB and antiracist initiatives throughout systems of higher education.”

“We call upon our communities to join us in showing support for colleagues who are being unjustly targeted by groups espousing hateful ideologies,” they add before attacking the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against affirmative action as a determining factor in college admissions.

“Given the Supreme Court’s injudicious rulings in the Harvard and UNC affirmative action cases, it is imperative that we unite in support of campus diversity,” the letter declares.

“In Penn State’s response to the Court’s decision, the University says it will ‘remain committed to enhancing the diversity of our academic community,'” it continues. “We’ll be watching to ensure that Penn State lives up to its word by upholding the university’s stated values and commitment to DEIB. We fully expect that the administration will defend its antiracist employees who are being unscrupulously attacked. Indeed, the administration must be held accountable on this matter.”

Melissa Fine

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