City Department of Human Resources conducts seminar specifically excluding white employees, then tries to cover it up

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KING COUNTY, WA- When everything is racist, nothing is racist. Make sense? In other words, when innocuous things such as milk, diet, exercise, math, and highways are considered racist, true racism in fact no longer exists.

Such is the case in 2022, when true racism has been subverted by a wokeist agenda which seeks to make all things racist. In King County, Washington, a recent seminar claimed that dieting and traditional concepts of health are racist. And in holding the seminar, the host agency wanted to make sure that whites need not attend.

According to 770-KTTH’s Jason Rantz, the King County Department of Human Resources announced a remote workshop absurdly named “Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture.”

The seminar was announced in an all-staff email newsletter, and was included as part of the county’s “Balanced You” program, which focuses on staff wellness. Well apparently the program only focuses on non-white staff wellness.

The workshop was conducted by Liberating Jasper, a Tacoma-based organization which claims dieting is harmful to blacks and that “Western ideals of attractiveness and health are steeped in whiteness.” It also makes the provably absurd claim that obesity can in fact be healthy.

While the county claimed the workshop didn’t exclude anyone, the event was promoted both in public and private as being for “BIPOC employees only.” The office of King County Executive Dow Constantine claimed the description of the event was made ‘in error,” however a trove of emails obtained by Rantz showed that the intent of the workshop was to purposely exclude whites.

According to Rantz, a staffer from the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) was specifically banned from the Feb. 17 workshop simply due to his race. A public records request showed the incident occurred shortly after the staffer turned on his webcam to attend the seminar.

“During the first few minutes, I had my front facing camera turned off and was enjoying the training,” the employee told Interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall in an email. “I turned my front facing camera on and was promptly removed from the training. I am a White male County employee. I said nothing in the training and my microphone was on mute. I tried to rejoin the training and was blocked from doing so as it said I was removed by the host.”

In his email complaint, the staffer asked if other attendees had been removed from the remote seminar, however concluded:

“I was kicked out of a work training session based solely on the color of my skin.”

Cole-Tindall then forwarded the employee’s complaint to the county Balanced You staff and asked for answers as to why the employee was booted from the seminar.

Rantz said he received an email from Constantine’s office which confirmed the KCSO staffer had been banned from the workshop, however initially blamed it on a “technical error,” according to spokesperson Chase Gallagher.

Gallagher told Rantz, “the vendor had technical issues on their end with the session, which impacted several people that got bumped out and then weren’t able to rejoin.”

The sheriff’s office employee received the same email message.

“I’m sorry you had this experience, we were navigating some technology issues today and weren’t fully able to come back online,” Shawna Johnson, Employee Health & Well-Being Specialist responded.

The staffer wasn’t buying it, and asked again if anyone else was removed from the online seminar.

“…yes, there were other employees dropped from the conversation. I apologize for each of your inability to participate in the full conversation and as previously conveyed, will send you the slide deck materials for reference,” Johnson responded.

After Rantz’s show asked about the incident, Gallagher responded that he “was told that there were technical difficulties faced by the vendor that resulted in several participants being removed and unable to rejoin, and not a deliberate act.”

However, an internal investigation discovered that a staff member, who was unidentified had in fact lied about what happened.

“Following your inquiry and subsequent  information received by staff, an investigation occurred to gather all the facts and full understanding of the events that took place,” Gallagher told the Rantz Show.

“That investigation found in fact there was a deliberate decision by one of the employees involved in the session to remove an individual from the event. The information provided by that employee led to the response that was relayed to you, which we know now was not accurate.”

Rantz was told that after the investigation was complete, the “employee resigned their position.”

KTTH also reported a second white employee who was unable to get back into the seminar after being removed, however a review of internal documents wasn’t clear if this was intentional or an actual technical error, since she received a different error message than her coworker.

“I tried to rejoin the Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture workshop, I had to go to another computer with sound but I [sic] all I got was the message below and was never let in. Could you let me know why?” she wrote.

A screenshot was attached which read, “Please wait, the meeting host will let you in soon.”

Rantz questioned why someone on the county’s staff thought this was a good idea in the first place, that being the exclusion of participants from a taxpayer-funded seminar solely on the basis of race. However according to emails obtained by KTTH, the intent of the event was “always to include white staff.”

During initial questions about the “BIPOC only” event, the county spokesperson claimed the workshop description was “not as clear as it could have been,” while internal emails show that claim is completely false.

For example, in late 2021, Johnson emailed the Black African American Affinity Group at King County about upcoming workshops which would center around body positivity.

“And here’s what to look forward to in 2022: Identify specific workshop series (workshops open to: BIPOC, people of size/in larger bodies, and LGBTQ+ folks only),” Johnson wrote.

In a subsequent report to managers last November, Johnson once again explained the upcoming workshops were exclusionary. Rantz said the language for the event was reviewed by Stephanie Guzman-Barrera of the Office of Equity & Social Justice on January 3.

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“No concerns from me this looks great. Thank you Shawna for your work on this! Really excited to see the intersectionality approach of anti-blackness and anti-fatness,” Guzman-Barrera replied.

“Anti-fatness?” Is this a new thing?

Johnson repeated the same line to an HR communications specialist on January 6, noting the series was “open to BIPOC employees only” and there was a limit of 50 for each workshop.

They weren’t even trying to hide what they were doing…until they were caught. For example, on January 6, an employee emailed Johnson and related they were having trouble signing up for the workshops. Johnson offered to help the employee, while adding that “the content for the two workshops will be very similar, one is just a BIPOC only session which will hold more space for BIPOC folks to show up.”

Yet another employee emailed Johnson:

“Quick question, the BIPOC employees only, does that include Hispanic? It says anti-blackness but you mention brown bodies as well. It’s a bit confusing.”

Johnson replied: “Yes, BIPOC does include Hispanic.”

A number of other emails also indicated the seminars were limited to BIPOC employees only. In fact, the contract with Liberating Jasper specifically details the race-based intent of the seminar: “Access to after-program weekly support groups for up to 10 weeks for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Spanish-speaking populations.”

After they were caught lying, the county attempted to walk back their earlier statement which claimed the seminar’s description was unclear.

“Regarding your review of the emails in the records, it is true that multiple staff approved that language, but it was not reviewed or authorized by the appropriate leaders,” Gallagher said. “As I mentioned and you cited, the description of the workshops was revised before the events occurred to reflect that both sessions were open to all employees.”

That is of course a lie as well; as Rantz notes, the language was reviewed by appropriate leadership, according to emails.

For example, HR Chief of Staff Sandra Newton emailed HR Director Jay Osbourne and Deputy Director of HR Adrienne Leslie on January 14 with a PowerPoint draft for an upcoming management meeting. One of the slides shows upcoming training sessions, including the listing “Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture (For BIPOC employees only).”

A subsequent email from Osbourne to Newton and Leslie on February 1 included a 2022 communications planning form, which listed upcoming workshops.

“Culture and Anti-Blackness workshop (BIPOC only)” was listed along with a note that it was intended for “BIPOC employees that have expressed interest in or previously attended a Liberating Jasper workshop.”

The recent concerns over the workshop shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since as early as last April, HR was alerted to concerns over it. One county employee emailed concerns to the county’s Health and Wellbeing Project Program Manager Megan Jourdan on April 30, 2021.

“Inviting only BIPOC front-line employees to participate in the hour-long stress group is ridiculous. You do realize everyone regardless of being BIPOC or not could benefit from this? This, I feel is racist,” the staffer wrote.

Jordan defended the clear discrimination:

“It is important to note that King County leads with racial justice. We know the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for everyone. We also know that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities across a range of health and economic outcomes, and that BIPOC individuals and communities have endured additional layers of traumatic experiences throughout the pat year. Just as King County promotes equity by designating spaces for BIPOC employees via Affinity Groups, Balanced You promotes equity by designating healing spaces co-designed by and for BIPOC employees.”

Jourdan admitted the workshops purposefully excluded white employees, however claimed it was allowed because a separate workshop for all employees was also offered.

“In a meeting on 5/13/21, Gloria told us that in order to be in line with County values, we would need to offer the equivalent services for all employees, including white employees. So, in the case of the Debriefing groups, we need to offer groups for all employees if we were going to offer groups for BIPOC employees. I know this is being done with Liberating Jasper.”

“Gloria” refers to Workforce Equity Manager Gloria Ngezaho, who reports to the HR director.

Rantz emailed Gallagher about the BIPOC only session on February 10, whereby the county started to formulate a response. Employee Engagement Manager Brook Bascom sent out a draft email in response to Rantz’s questions. Bascom defended the BIPOC-only workshop and used the same language used in the response to the April 2021 email from the concerned employee.

Clearly, King County was scrambling to formulate a response to Rantz which was designed as a “CYA.” In fact, Johnson emailed Liberating Jasper staff to inform them that a “local conservative news outlet” was making inquiries about the BIPOC-only event.

“We’ve been receiving employee pushback and media inquiries about this men’s workshop—questioning why it is open to BIPOC folks only. We’re meeting with leadership to work out a response,” Johnson wrote.

The county then scrambled to cover up the “BIPOC only” aspect to the seminar, removing mentions of “BIPOC-only” from workshop online descriptions, replacing it with “(open to all county employees).” Gallagher claims this was done because it was always the intent to have the workshops open to all employees.

Despite that, Anita Whitfield, Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, dispatched an email to staff making the edits and seemed to downplay the “open to all county employees” narrative

“Also, please remember that I said to the group that we don’t have to say ‘everybody can attend both classes,’” she wrote on February 16.

Bascom then drafted an email to all workshop attendees, alerting them that a “conservative” talk show host (Rantz) was asking questions.

“We are taking the extra step to ensure the privacy of workshop attendees because last week talk show host Jason Rantz, who describes himself as ‘Seattle’s fresh, contemporary conservative voice,’ inquired about the workshop and the legality of having workshops for all employees and BIPOC employees,” she wrote.

Staff apparently decided not to send that particular email.

Rantz said that a trove of hundreds of emails and documents show county officials knew the workshop was deliberately exclusive of white staff members. It was only after Rantz started to make inquiries that the county scrambled to cover up those references.

Yet despite that, the county spokesperson insisted that it was a “simple mistake” that it appeared white county employees were being excluded from the workshop.

“The initial description of this event was not as clear as it could have been. Both sessions are open to all King County employees. The first session is centered on the lived experiences and learnings of BIPOC employees. The workshop description is being updated,” he wrote.

That is in complete contrast to the initial description of the workshop, which was seen by senior HR leadership, a complaint about the event made early last year was blown off, and emails indicate the county is in panic mode about Rantz’s inquiries.

Also, while the county promised to provide a summary of their internal investigation about the employee who removed the white employee from the virtual seminar, it is currently still being withheld from Rantz.

“When the investigation was launched, it was reasonably assumed that there could potentially be litigation around the incident, so the investigation and its work products were executed under attorney client privilege. Because it remains a privileged document it is exempt from disclosure and will not be distributed,” Gallagher wrote.

In other words, King County is very worried about possible litigation.


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