I, Too, Require Payment Not to Rap

Illustration for article titled I, Too, Require Payment Not to Rap
Screenshot: YouTube

Last week, Jodi Shaw, a white woman—this is very relevant—decided to resign from her position at Smith College due in large part to the unspeakable horror that, as part of the university’s racial equity trainings, she was forced to contemplate the fact that she is white for a few hours every year. Her resignation would be unremarkable except for the fact that rather than go off quietly into the night, she took her lengthy resignation letter to Bari Weiss’s Substack and then used her resignation to fundraise more than $200,000. That Shaw would unite with Weiss to make some sort of point about their shared beliefs that liberal culture has run amok is wholly unsurprising—in 2020, Shaw had ranted about Smith College’s anti-racism training in a video she posted to YouTube, training which I assume after watching her video simply made her feel uncomfortable. “Stop demanding that I admit to white privilege and work on my supposed implicit bias,” she complained in the video, before making the laughable claim that she was merely “organizing in the workplace to improve working conditions.”

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Shaw’s resignation letter, printed in full in Weiss’s Substack, is astonishing, though perhaps not for the reasons that Weiss and Shaw believe. In her blog post, titled—haha—“Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism,” Weiss wrote breathlessly that Shaw is some sort of hero bravely standing up to the tyranny of... boring and fairly toothless anti-racism DEI training? “But the hour is very late. It calls for courage,” Weiss wrote. “And courage has come in the form of a woman named Jodi Shaw.”

Let’s review this supposed whistleblower’s complaints, claims that unintentionally reinforce the point that maybe she did, in fact, need to go through some anti-racism training. Shaw claimed that there is a “racially hostile environment” at Smith that has left her “physically and mentally debilitated.” Her first piece of evidence? The 2018 incident when a Black student was racially profiled by a campus police officer for eating her lunch in the living room of a residence hall and told that she “seems to be out of place.” Incredibly, Shaw seems to see herself as the victim in this situation, and not the Black student who was humiliated and traumatized by campus police. “This only served to support the now prevailing narrative that the incident had been racially motivated and that Smith staff are racist,” Shaw whined.

Shaw then complained that shortly after, she was told by her boss that she could not hold a library orientation session she had come up with that she—wait for it—planned to conduct in rap form, because she was white. I don’t know what her supervisor said, but I think the blame here falls on Shaw for thinking that she should rap in front of a group of bored teenagers who would absolutely and immediately clown her. Her supervisor did her a favor here!

Of her own volition, Shaw then wrote that she moved into a lower-paying position as a student support coordinator. In her letter, she continued her litany of complaints about having to even think about being white or share her experiences as a white person:

The last straw came in January 2020, when I attended a mandatory Residence Life staff retreat focused on racial issues. The hired facilitators asked each member of the department to respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity. When it was my turn to respond, I said “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.” I was the only person in the room to abstain.

Later, the facilitators told everyone present that a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of “white fragility.” They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress, but that it is actually a “power play.” In other words, because I am white, my genuine discomfort was framed as an act of aggression. I was shamed and humiliated in front of all of my colleagues.

Another incident that stuck out in her mind:

I endured meetings in which another staff member violently banged his fist on the table, chanting “Rich, white women! Rich, white women!” in reference to Smith alumnae.

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The horror!!!

Shaw wrote many, many more words which you can read if you would like to chuckle heartily at the spectacle of a woman having an utter meltdown over having to unpack her privilege knapsack. But Shaw also claimed that she “was offered a settlement in exchange for my silence, but I turned it down.”

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But was she, in fact, offered a settlement? According to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, a fellow white woman who responded on Monday to Shaw’s claims in her own public letter on the university’s website, the answer is no, or at the very least more complicated. Here’s the real story, according to McCartney:

The employee suggests that Smith tried to buy her silence. But it was the employee herself who demanded payment of an exceptionally large sum in exchange for dropping a threatened legal claim and agreeing to standard confidentiality provisions.

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McCartney continued: “While it might be uncomfortable to accept that each of us, regardless of color or background, may have absorbed unconscious biases or at times acted in ways that are harmful to members of our community, such self-reflection is a prerequisite for making meaningful progress.”

Ouch. The scourge of white-on-white violence must end!

Senior reporter, Jezebel

DISCUSSION

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The 2018 incident when a Black student was racially profiled by a campus police officer for eating her lunch in the living room of a residence hall and told that she “seems to be out of place.” Incredibly, Shaw seems to see herself as the victim in this situation, and not the Black student who was humiliated and traumatized by campus police. “This only served to support the now prevailing narrative that the incident had been racially motivated and that Smith staff are racist,” Shaw whined.

How did this woman manage to take an incident that had absolutely nothing to do with her, and somehow make it a centerpiece of her own personal experience? That is some white grievance alchemy right there.