- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Conservative activists have launched a grassroots email campaign to pressure the CEOs of Walmart and CVS to end mandatory “antiracism” workshops that tell employees how to think and talk about White privilege.

As of Tuesday morning, activists had sent 1,006 emails to CVS CEO Karen Lynch since Sept. 22 and 646 emails to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon since Oct. 18.

The direct message outreach is the brainchild of Gregory T. Angelo, president of the New Tolerance Campaign, a watchdog group that monitors “incidents of cultural intolerance masquerading as tolerance.”

“When you’re conducting training that pressures employees to disclose their race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation, you’re pushing the limits of corporate ethics,” said Mr. Angelo, a former head of the LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans.

CVS has not acknowledged the emails. But Walmart’s Executive Communications Department replied to one on Oct. 22, confirming that it has held “sessions, for our leaders and salaried managers, that encourage reflection on the history of race in the US and systemic issues that Black and African American communities have faced.”

“We don’t always agree with every comment made by every participant in a session or endorse every view on a PowerPoint slide produced by others, but the experience has been a net positive for us as we strive to create more opportunities for everyone,” stated the unsigned Walmart email.

Mr. Angelo provided a copy of the email to The Washington Times.

Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who exposed the training in articles for the City Journal, also received an email from Walmart.

He wrote in an Oct. 14 article that the company confirmed to him that it has engaged the Racial Equity Institute for “training sessions since 2018” and has “found these sessions to be thought provoking and constructive.”

Mr. Rufo said the email campaign is speaking out for employees who leaked internal company documents to him but feel unable to complain openly without losing their positions.

“Corporate employees don’t have a voice on these issues, so they need outside voices to expose abusive practices in the workplace and put pressure on employers, who are sensitive to public opinion,” he told The Times.

Leaked documents from Walmart’s “Racial Equity Workshop” and CVS’ “Conscious Inclusion Learning Experience,” including internal company emails, were published on Mr. Rufo’s website Oct. 14 and Sept. 22 to accompany the City Journal articles.

The Walmart workshop denounces the United States as a “White supremacy system” and tells hourly wage earners that they are guilty of “internalized racial superiority.”

In a “Phase One” workshop document on “Foundations in Historical and Institutional Racism,” the corporate giant further warns its minimum-wage employees about institutions exploiting people of color.

The document states on page 12: “Poor communities and communities of color are under siege by systems and institutions that offer goods, services and programs, but deprive them of power. In work with communities, it is important to always assess who has the power. Who is deciding what programs and services are needed? Who is creating these programs? To whom are these programs accountable?”

The Walmart training materials come from a two-year program produced by the Racial Equity Institute, an “antiracist” entity that describes itself on its website as an “alliance of trainers, organizers, and institutional leaders” who “help individuals and organizations develop tools to challenge patterns of power.”

The CVS Health “Conscious Inclusion Learning Experience” presentation, apparently designed by the company itself, includes slides of “Say This, Not That” cards telling employees how to role-play conversations about topics including race and sexuality.

Each card warns workers not to say phrases like “I’m colorblind/I don’t see color,” “You’re so articulate (to Black people)” and “I’m not racist/I have friends of color.”

The cards recommend substituting approved phrases in everyday conversations, such as, “I recognize that addressing bias and racism is a lifelong journey, and I am actively engaging in that journey,” or, “I work to celebrate everyone’s unique differences.”

On the topic of gender, the slides instruct employees to say “sexual orientation” or “LGBTQ” instead of “sexual preference” and to avoid giving each other or customers the impression “that sexual identity is a choice and that heterosexuality is the ‘norm’ or a standard way of life.”

A list of approved words includes “allyship,” “antiracism” and “psychological safety” to help participants discuss their “privilege.”

CVS did not respond to a request for comment. Walmart global communications director Melissa Hill reiterated in an email to The Times that while “the company does not agree” with all the views in the materials, it has “found these sessions to be thought-provoking and constructive.”

 “As we have publicly shared in our diversity and inclusion reports, we have used the well-known REI program for a number of training sessions for corporate leaders since 2018,” Ms. Hill said.

“This training does make employees uncomfortable. Speaking out against it could have repercussions socially within the companies and for their futures there. But people are speaking out through this campaign,” said Mr. Angelo, former press secretary for the Trump White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of Christopher Rufo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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