A Virginia official promoted Critical Race Theory trainings and writings during a presentation to America’s oldest military academy’s Board of Visitors.
Dr. Janice Underwood, the state of Virginia’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, told the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Board of Visitors that ‘White Fragility’ author and diversity consultant Robin DiAngelo’s thinking explains why “talking about race is so difficult.” She encouraged the Board to engage in “uncomfortable” conversations surrounding race, another concept promoted by DiAngelo, and introduce racialized thinking into “every single course” at VMI.
DiAngelo, a former professor at Westfield State University, has written that “common white responses [to discussions of the privileging of whites] include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance.”
She claimed in her best-selling book ‘White Fragility’ that “white identity is inherently racist. White people do not exist outside of the system of white supremacy.”
Underwood introduced the hotly-contested concept of microaggressions with a video of Air Force veterans explaining how they impact their day-to-day service. She then told the Board that racism begins as “a simple thought fueled by our narrow lived experience” before turning into “bias, and left unchecked, that bias can transform into microaggressive behavior.”
Underwood compared racism to a plant “whose roots are so firmly entrenched into social and economic systems that it becomes systemic racism.” (RELATED: Director Of Civil Rights Commission Under Investigation For Making Nazi Analogy In Policing Discussion)
She claimed that “discomfort is to be expected” when discussing race, so people should “lean into that discomfort. Walk towards the discomfort, not away.” People discussing race must “engage in self-reflection and engage [their] own racial engagement and biases.”
DiAngelo argues that since white people are “so rarely ever uncomfortable,” they can easily be “throw[n]… out of our racial comfort zones,” by talking about race.
When Underwood asked the Board how VMI is creating a more equitable education for its cadets, President of the Board of Directors Bill Boland explained that the school is creating a new class “that will be part of our core curriculum, that includes issues related to racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Being in the core curriculum, that is a course that every student will have to take.”
“The president of the Board of Visitors is referring to a course that is in development titled ‘The American Civic Experience,’ which will be a history course required of all cadets. The proposed course will cover issues from the Civil Rights Movement including study of key Supreme Court cases related to civil rights as well as other constitutional principles,” a VMI spokesman told the Daily Caller.
The course will not be added into the curriculum before the 2021-22 school year at the earliest, the spokesman added.
Underwood asked Boland how he planned to “embed those competencies in all of your courses. Because I guarantee you in every single course there are class discussions. I encourage the board, encourage the faculty, to think about these conversations not as icing on cake to be scraped off if you don’t feel like eating the icing, but embedding them across content, across curriculum, and really thinking about building cadets’ capacity and their emotional intelligence to have these very complicated nuanced conversations.”
Underwood did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment at the time of publication.
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered an investigation into VMI following reports that a professor told a black cadet during class that “KKK parties were the best parties ever.” Then-superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III resigned following the allegations. (RELATED: Virginia Military Institute Board Unanimously Votes To Remove Stonewall Jackson Statue)
A review conducted by the law firm Barnes & Thornburg found that the school “did not … conclusive[ly] violat[e] Title VI or Title IX,” but “tolerated and left unaddressed … institutional racism and sexism.”
VMI partnered with the Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a cyber defense lab and join the DOD’s Senior Military Colleges Cyber Leadership Development Program. VMI received a $1,475,000 grant as part of the program.