PC Culture

American Express Employees Were Told Capitalism is Racist in Diversity Training: Report

Credit card is pictured in front of an American Express logo, July 15, 2021 (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

American Express executives created an internal “Anti-Racism Initiative” amid the racial reckoning that took place after the death of George Floyd last year, according to a new report.

The program relied upon the core tenets of critical race theory, according to whistleblower documents obtained by Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has worked to investigate the use of CRT in corporate America.

In a session led by the outside consulting firm Paradigm, employees were asked to deconstruct their own intersectional identities then rank themselves on a hierarchy of “privilege,” according to Rufo.

After mapping their “race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, disability status, age, gender identity [and] citizenship” onto an official company worksheet, employees were asked to determine whether they have “privilege” or are members of a “marginalized group.”

The teaching considered white males to be oppressors while racial and sexual minorities were considered oppressed. 

Another training told employees to change their office behavior based on their relative position on the hierarchy of privilege. A specific set of rules were outlined for interacting with black, female and LGBT employees.

The trainers told employees they should practice “intersectional allyship” and defer to members of a subordinate group before speaking. 

Another handout tells white employees to “identify the privileges or advantages you have”; “don’t speak over members of the black and African-American community”; “it’s not about your intent, it’s about the impact you have on your colleague.”

White employees were also instructed not to say things like, “I don’t see color,” “We are all human beings” and “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough.” 

Such expressions were deemed “microaggressions.”

AmEx also recommended resources for employees to, quoting Ibram Kendi, “learn about covert white supremacy” and dedicate themselves “to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.” The resources include the “Beyond Prisons” podcast, which advocates for eliminating imprisonment, policing and surveillance; as well as other articles that aim to “force white people to see and understand how white supremacy permeates their lives,” demonstrate that white children are racist before they can speak, and to convince employees that Congress should pass legislation for race-based reparations.

AmEx executives invited Khalil Muhammad, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, to speak at an “anti-racism” event about “race in corporate America.”

Khalil Muhammad claimed that capitalism was founded on racism and that “racist logics and forms of domination” have shaped Western society from the Industrial Revolution to today.

“American Express has to do its own digging about how it sits in relationship to this history of racial capitalism,” Muhammad said. “You are complicit in giving privileges in one community against the other, under the pretext that we live in a meritocratic system where the market judges everyone the same.”

Muhammad suggested that executives should undertake “the deep ­redistributive and reparative work” and to “lobby [the government] for the kinds of social policies that reflect your values.”

He also encouraged the company to reduce standards for black customers and to sacrifice profits in the interest of race-based reparations.

“If American Express cares about racial justice in the world, it can’t simply say the market’s going to define how we price certain customers, who happen to come from low-income communities,” he said. “If you want to do good, then you’re going to have to set up products and [product] lines that don’t maximize profit.”

The report comes after AmEx announced a $1 billion “action plan” last fall to increase diversity, invest in more minority-owned businesses and donate to nonprofits that promote “social justice.”

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