Diversity and Inclusion Training for MIT Students

One of my MIT undergraduate moles shared with me a September email from the Administration:

We are writing to you regarding the important topics of sexual assault prevention and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Two Required Trainings: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Sexual Assault Prevention Ongoing: Healthy Relationships (see instructions below)

The trainings will be available starting October 1, 2020 and must be completed by November 2, 2020. Instructions to access the courses are below. You will have a registration hold placed on your account and will be unable to register for IAP and/or Spring 2021 classes if you do not complete both trainings by the November 2 deadline.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion starts with a survey that contains unanswerable questions:

How is Student X supposed to know what Students Y and Z are trying to do in forming friendships? (especially given that everyone is dispersed and interacting only via Zoom) The student is also supposed to know what 1,000+ classmates value:

The survey is at least 40 gender IDs short of a complete list:

Department of Flexible User Interface:

The local Federal appeals court got it wrong!

“ageism” is not an “oppression”:

A confusing one:

(If Cian is a student at an engineering university, why do his friends expect him to be sexually active?)

Any time is a good time for a gender transition? No!

Whoever designed this survey does not seem very familiar with the American public housing, Medicaid, SNAP, and Obamaphone programs!


After the baseline quiz, it is time for the welcome video, which features seven students, none of them apparently identifying as “white male,” and with no apparent age diversity.

The next video introduces José, a double-victim: Afro-Latino. He says that both of his parents are doctors and that’s why he’s pre-med: “it’s in my DNA”. Is the learner supposed to consider the possibility that academic ability, conscientiousness, and other aspects of intelligence and personality are also in students’ DNA?

“Living our Intersectionality” features the following folks:

  • “I identify foremost as a very, like, spiritual queer person of color.” (a microaggressive person would say that this person appears to be an Asian female)
  • “I identify as ABC: African Black Caribbean. Female. I also have ties with the indigenous.” (She’s big enough that a chandler would likely recommend that any “ties” be at least 1/2″ in diameter, double braid, and secured with a cleat hitch.)

(nobody identifies at the intersection of “white” and “male”!)

Next slide:

“Many of our social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice.” … We can’t just look at a person’s race or gender (or any of their individual identities) as separate categories. It’s the intersections that truly shape a person’s experience and influence both their opportunities and their challenges. This concept is especially helpful when thinking about issues of fairness and how people are treated in the world.

Let’s hope that President Harris deports anyone who answers “I agree”!

Another remake of Sybil is around the corner:

Heading out to exercise can be just as dangerous as sitting next to the fridge in governor-ordered shutdown for 8 months:

For example, student athletes who identify as women may face conflicts between their identities as women, athletes, and students. They may face pressures to be more aggressive and practice-focused, based on their athletic identity, more feminine and nurturing, related to gender expectations, and more studious and intellectual, based on their student identity.

Student POV: A student who identifies as black says that being black is “incredibly challenging” and “I am constantly in fear for my life”.

We find José again being victimized by his white roommates and their friends. The LGBTQIA+ guy with a stereotypical lisp is fine, but the white girl pressures Jose to go to the BLM rally. The white guy says he expected Jose to look different (i.e., more Latinx and less Black) and that “No offense, but it seems that All Lives Matter would be a better way to bring people together. You’re saying that your [Latinx] dad’s family matters less than your [Nigerian] mom’s?”

What to do about the near-Deplorable?

You can’t proceed until you select the last one.

White people, even those who appear to identify as “women”, make a lot of stupid assumptions:

All Look Same rears its ugly head:

Math is hard:

Will this section be about charging $53,000+ for a few months of streaming video?

“Sometimes equality isn’t actually fair.”

Perceptions can be misleading…

Even the lowliest worm may have power:

Even if you think you personally don’t have power, you may still be participating in structural systems of power where you receive advantages or are considered the norm, while others are disadvantaged or considered outside the norm.

White males reappear in order to define privilege:

(Looks as though he is loving the phone that was developed for him by white and Asian engineers, but white male privilege won’t entitle him to a mobile data signal if he’s in the Boston suburbs!)

Did 9 out of 100 students go into the “wrong” bathroom by mistake or because it was actually the “right” bathroom?

But maybe the ASPCA should be called when a dog is forced to walk on three paws (the fourth being held by the human companion):

Not everyone is unhappy about our new all-virtual world:

There will be a lot of worries when students come out of Shutdown Joe’s multi-year shutdown, having raided the fridge every 15 minutes and never having exercised!

If God exists and is powerful and benevolent, why is it ever unsafe to pray?

Everyone can breathe easier starting January 20, 2021:

Who is oppressed? Someone who has made the mistake of not identifying as a white male…

If you’re morbidly obese and have sex with a different partner every night, you’re at risk of becoming a victim of “internalized oppression”:

One example from the Isms, Phobias, and Microaggressions section:

(Would it be okay to respond “Engagement? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to pay back your student loans by having sex with your already-married dermatologist?”)

Some definitions on the topic that has consistently enriched this blog:

Transphobia is prejudice against transsexual or transgender people. Transantagonism includes hostility, aggression and violence towards trans people. Bathroom harassment is a form of discrimination that is experienced by many trans people, gender nonconforming people, and cisgender people who don’t fit stereotypical ideas related to their gender presentation.

There is no “I” in “Team” and there is no “I” (or “T”) in “LGBTQIA+”:

Know that LGBQA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and asexual (plus many other associated identities).

Understand that asexuality is a sexual orientation. Asexual people generally do not feel a sexual attraction to others, though they may feel romantic attractions.

Be sensitive when talking with people about coming out stories. Remember that for some people these are traumatic experiences.

Language can create exclusion. Using identity-related words like “gay” to indicate that something is negative reinforces stereotypes.

If you have religious, political, or cultural objections to certain sexual orientations, remember that our community values include treating everyone with dignity and respect.

If a virtuous immigrant student follows a religion that condemns particular sexual acts, how can the community be said to be respecting this religion and the virtuous immigrant by covering hallways with posters celebrating those particular sexual acts?

The longest video is “How do you think about anti-blackness?” Maybe the problem wouldn’t exist if white people kept to themselves?

There is great diversity of experience among people of color. The term BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) is used to highlight some of these differences in history and experience. Respect spaces that are reserved for BIPOC people to discuss issues privately and safely.

At a minimum, white people should refrain from observing Halloween:

Usually marked by a sense of disrespect or superficiality, classic examples of appropriation include wearing the traditional clothing of a racially marginalized group as a Halloween costume, or using a group’s symbols of religious or spiritual significance as decorative accessories. Inclusive spaces reject cultural appropriation.

José returns to be victimized for 1:04 by a white professor who says, on the first day of class, “we don’t get many people like you in pre-med” (certainly a true statement at MIT, since there is no pre-med major!).

Now it is time for Communications and the Stupid White Man reappears to offer an opinion regarding Navajo jewelry:

The software won’t allow the learner to proceed until this answer is corrected. (American universities own vast amounts of land, all of it stolen from Native Americans. If they care about Native Americans, why not pay rent on the stolen land?)

The software reminds students at private universities that they don’t have a right to free speech:

Speech has a special role in higher education and in the United States. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects a person’s freedom of speech and expression from government interference (so it typically applies only to state institutions, though some states create additional legal protections that apply to private institutions).

Most colleges and universities consider freedom of speech and expression to be a critical part of the pursuit of higher education, and are also committed to creating a learning community where students from all backgrounds feel welcome and can concentrate on their studies without facing hostility and discrimination.

This is followed with a bunch of links explaining the difference between “free speech” and “hate speech”.

The next screen has some great drawings:

White men do bad things even before the party starts:

The learner cannot proceed without calling off the “Salsa and Sombreros” party (were Goya-brand products going to be served?). Correct answer:

By thanking Luca for calling out his behavior and dedicating himself to learning more about cultural appropriation, Tanner is respecting Luca’s perspective and behaving as an ally. Everybody makes mistakes — part of being an ally means being open to acknowledging when you’re wrong, and taking the necessary steps to continually check your privilege and your behavior in the future, even when it’s uncomfortable.

(see this 1993 story about a fraternity at University of California that scheduled a “South of the Border” party)

There is a video tutorial on how to apologize after using the wrong pronouns. This is followed up with some text:

Be sensitive to the situation and any histories of inequality. A great apology focuses on the harm that was done and not on the person who is apologizing.

The key to apologizing well? Remember, it’s about acknowledging your actions, not focusing on the other person’s interpretation.

Here’s the 2-minute Self-Care video:

José returns to be abused during a pickup basketball game by a white man who claims to have been fouled: “maybe that’s okay where you come from.” Bad White Man calls José a “thug.”

José considers leaving school, but he is rescued by brave student services staff and other administrators. He decides to stay and says “I’m going to make a difference.” (Like the med students that I teach! None say that they want to go into lucrative specialties and treat patients who have money and/or private insurance. It is a mystery to me where plastic surgeons and dermatologists come from.)

There is a final exam, with pretty much the same questions as the pre-exam:


With 16 wrong answers out of 16, the undergraduate is qualified to join the Delta Tau Chi fraternity:

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When someone pleads ignorance regarding the Holocaust, fire him twice!

“Florida Principal Who Wouldn’t Call Holocaust ‘Factual’ Is Fired Again” (NYT):

A high school principal in Florida whose refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust as a “factual, historical event” in an email led to a national backlash, his firing and then his rehiring has been fired for a second time.

The Palm Beach County school board on Tuesday voted 7 to 0 to fire the principal, William Latson, who was removed from his post last year at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Fla., after a 2018 email exchange with a student’s parent became public.

What did the guy say?

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” Mr. Latson stated in one of the emails, which were obtained by The Palm Beach Post. Mr. Latson said he had to stay “politically neutral” and separate his personal views about the Holocaust from his job as a public school official.

“I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly,” he wrote. “I do the same with information about slavery.”

His answer would have been perfect for a deposition. He wasn’t alive in the 1940s. He is not a historian. He doesn’t have any better information regarding what happened during the 1940s than anyone else. Being a school system administrator does not qualify him to offer a history lesson. Also, he did clarify his personal beliefs regarding this period of history:

“I am not a Holocaust denier,” he says in the video. “I have never been a Holocaust denier. I am sorry that my comments caused people to think that.”

What was the point of firing this guy (twice!)? Just to show that even a hint of dissent cannot be tolerated?

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Elite coastal Jews advocate discrimination against white and Asian males

Let’s look again at White men correctly perceive American Jews as their enemies? Here’s the latest from our Jewish-owned media elite… “Californians, Vote Yes on Prop 16” (New York Times, October 27):

Black and Latino people have been hit hardest by America’s recent one-two punch of public health and economic crises. They’ve been hospitalized for Covid-19 at quadruple the rate of white Americans. Their businesses have struggled to get the support they requested from the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. As of August, the unemployment rate for African-Americans was nearly double that of white Americans.

Amid these widening disparities, California voters are weighing a measure that could be a big help to women, Black and Latino students and business owners. Proposition 16 aims to reverse Proposition 209, a measure that California passed 24 years ago banning consideration of race, gender or ethnicity in public university admissions and public contracting. California was the first state to try to ban affirmative action, and others — including Michigan, Arizona and Washington — later followed suit.

Given that slots at public universities and funding for business owners are fixed and limited quantities, when Women, Blacks, and Latinos (but not the Latinx?) are advanced, necessarily, it is back of the bus for those unwise enough to identify as “white man” or “Asian man.”

Who else loves discrimination against white and Asian males, according to the NYT?

Proposition 16 has its supporters: the governor, Senator Kamala Harris, top public university officials.

So… a Jewish-owned newspaper reaches out from thousands of mile away to advocate for government-organized discrimination against white males and we will simultaneously say that white males who oppose Jewish-Americans are filled with irrational hatred? (We will also declare that white males who vote against the presidency of Kamala Harris are “voting against their own interest”!)


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Free to identify as Albanian American or a Girl Who Codes at GWU

From my beloved alma mater, George Washington University, “Student groups required to update bylaws to meet GW inclusion policy” (The GW Hatchet):

More than 20 student organizations were found to have violated GW’s gender, race and religion nondiscrimination policy, according to an email officials sent to those organizations last month.

“The University does allow organizations to choose between open and selective criteria for membership – however, selective criteria for general membership into the organization must abide by University policy, including its nondiscrimination policies,” the email states.

Graham said officials contacted 23 student organizations like Girls Who Code College Loop, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Albanian American Student Association.

“Queens Movement is focused on women’s empowerment – how can we be more open and inclusive within our organization if our organization is meant to support women?” Morrisey said in an email.

“Despite these concerns, we remain committed to remaining a safe and empowering place for all of our sisters, regardless of their gender identity, and are confident that these new measures will not infringe upon our ability to do so,” Ades said.

“Title IX tried to protect students from discrimination, and sometimes the best way to do that is to create a space specifically for minority voices,” Mobarhan said in an email. “Orgs like DPE sorority, Women in Finance, GW Women of Color, Women in Computer Science and so much more are necessary for equal opportunity.”

So much great stuff here! GWU is 62 percent female (US News), but those who identify as “women” are examples of a “minority”. It is possible to be a “sister” even if one identifies as a “man”, for example. One will soon be able to identify as a “girl who codes” without identifying as a “girl”. Most confusing: How exactly does a person identify as an Albanian American?

(Readers who thought that I was merely an MIT nerd: I attended GWU as a 14-year-old growing up in Washington, D.C, then transferred to MIT as a 15-year-old sophomore. In other words, I transferred from a school that is now 62 percent female to one that was 17 percent female and called myself intelligent. Also fun: during my attendance there, a dispute arose among the trustees regarding how to make the school more “selective”. One trustee was quoted as responding, “There is a place for a mediocre university in this country and GW is it”. I personally had a great experience there. The professors were passionate about teaching and weren’t consumed with their labs, postdocs, graduate students, etc.)

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Rainbow flags for our prisons?

Here’s a luxury resort in the Catskills that you might not want to visit… Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville:

As we looked down from the Cirrus SR20 (IFR training), it occurred to me that the prison is lacking one thing: a rainbow flag. I’m hopeful that President Harris will correct this and then the prison can be renamed “Ministry of Love is Love”.

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AFAF: How do I find a gay bar if every bar has a rainbow flag in front?

Asking for a friend…

Here’s a bar in Portland, Maine:

Note that the largest and most prominently featured signs are a rainbow flag (in a city with 358 gay households) and a Black Lives Matters sign (“Black people — many of them immigrants — make up less than 2 percent of Maine’s population but almost a quarter of its coronavirus cases” (Washington Post)). You have to scan down with your eyes and read a smaller font to see the name of the bar: Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. Maybe these symbols are like the crosses that adorn the top of church facades? Christian believers expect to see a cross that is larger than the text providing the name of the church.

How would a person seeking a gay bar find a gay bar, if every bar signals that its primary mission is serving the LGBTQIA+ community?

Also from Portland, October 15, every other table featured COVID-19 fatalities..

When a break-up requires a trip to the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles…

When you don’t have to lock your car because young people don’t know how to operate the four-speed transmission:

Don’t invite anyone out on your boat, including family members:

While you wait for the next order from the governor and wear the Church of Shutdown’s hijab, never forget that it was some other county in which tyranny prevailed. Fragments of the Berlin Wall:

Fill the door to your shop with color-coordinated Covid-19-related messages, including “Don’t dilly dally”:

(If stopping Covid-19 is our nation’s only goal, why do we still have retail stores?)

Circling back to the bar, what does it mean when the rainbow flag and the BLM sign are larger than anything identifying the business?

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Get your yard ready for Election Day

From a single house near our local airport (in Lincoln, Massachusetts):

One of my big concerns with the above is that the LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag, part of the Biden-Harris sign, is placed in an inferior position to the American flag, which the 1619 Project informs us is a symbol of oppression (not to mention treason against legitimate British rule that would have ended slavery decades earlier!). In what moral universe does the Flag of Slavery (TM) get to be placed higher than the Rainbow Flag of Tolerance?

(Note that “Science is not a Liberal Conspiracy” is illustrated with lithium, useful for treating poor mental health occasioned by forgetting to take away the Deplorables’ right to vote.)

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Racialized groups in our local public school

From the folks who will, if all goes according to plan, eventually occupy what will be the most expensive (per-student) school ever constructed in the United States:

Dear faculty, staff, parents, and guardians,

As you know the district has partnered with NCBI (National Coalition Building Institute) to support us in our work to become an antiracist district and our larger AIDE work (antiracism, inclusion, diversity, and equity). One of the many facets of our plan this year is for NCBI to conduct focus groups with a series of stakeholders including students, parents/guardians, and district staff.

The list below shows all of the focus groups we plan to hold over the coming two months:

Boston-resident students in METCO program grades 4-6
Boston-resident students in METCO program grades 7-8
Lincoln-resident students in grades 4-8 who identify as Black, biracial, or mixed
Lincoln-resident students in grades 4-8 who identity as part of other racialized groups (LatinX, Indigenous, Asian-American, Middle Eastern)
Lincoln-resident students in grades 4-8 who identify as White

What’s a “raciliazed group”? From Wikipedia:

In sociology, racialization or ethnicization is the process of ascribing ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such. Racialization or ethnicization often arises out of the interaction of a group with a group that it dominates and ascribes a racial identity to for the purpose of continued domination; over time, the racialized and ethnicized group often gradually identifies with and even embraces this identity and thus becomes a self-ascribed race or ethnicity. These processes have been common throughout the history of imperialism, nationalism, and racial and ethnic hierarchies.

With almost everyone, except for Donald Trump, dropping dead from COVID-19, how important is this?

We recognize that everyone has a lot going on in life now — and we also believe that it is important for us to dedicate time to listening to the experiences of our fellow community members.

I would love to know who these people are who have “a lot going on in life now”!

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Apple builds a virtual city on a hill

Within my Apple News app:

iPhone owners can make a difference, learn, give back, take action, and more! Let’s click and check the range of political opinion that Apple expects phone owners to want to learn about…

And scrolling…

There is nothing better than “grappling with … privilege” from the vantagepoint of a $1,400 iPhone 12 Pro Max!

Wouldn’t people have a lot more to donate “in support of Black lives and communities of color” if they kept their old phones and/or bought Google Pixel phones rather than Apple?

As part of this section, Apple also notes “Racism is a factor in health care, criminal justice, education, and other crucial election issues. Learn more about where the presidential candidates stand.” This leads to a Trump, who ripped Apple’s zero-tax rug out from under the company, versus Biden section:

Would resurrecting the ERA actually be a move in the direction of social justice? How could the federal government continue to have quotas for women-owned businesses, for example? Couldn’t people identifying as “men” or “not women” say that this program violated the ERA? The Biden-Harris campaign platform promises to direct billions of dollars to those who identify as “women”:

Biden will: Direct federal funding to women-owned businesses, including through his new historic $400 billion investment in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers, in his first term. This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure, and R&D since WWII, and it will critically be designed to support small businesses and those owned by women and people of color. … Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support women-owned businesses, especially those owned by women of color. Immediately after taking office in 2009, the Obama-Biden Administration started to make billions of dollars in capital available to women-owned businesses… Biden will build on this work and expand SBA programs that target women.

District courts struck down a bunch of stuff that Trump was trying to do because they found that his campaign rhetoric was evidence of wrongthink. Unless Presidents Biden and Harris can rip out the hard drives at archive.org, there will be a huge mountain of evidence that their intent for much of their agenda was motivated by a desire to help Americans with a particular gender ID, something that would then be prohibited by an adopted Equal Rights Amendment:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

(does the ERA itself need to be amended? It sounds as though it might be tainted with some gender binarism and transphobia)

Readers: Can we be redeemed merely by following Apple’s guide?


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What new monuments do we need?

From the New York Times:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the largest humanities philanthropy in the United States, has pledged to spend $250 million over five years to help reimagine the country’s approach to monuments and memorials, in an effort to better reflect the nation’s diversity and highlight buried or marginalized stories.

The first major grant under the new $250 million initiative will be a $4 million, three-year gift to Monument Lab, a Philadelphia-based public art and research studio that works with artists and community groups across the country to “reimagine public spaces through stories of social justice and equity,” according to its website.

The cover photo of the story:

Readers: What new monuments do you propose?

My first idea is a monument on the Hudson River to the French software engineers who kept the Airbus A320 from stalling despite Captain Sully’s heroic stick-full-back-the-whole-time landing (some details). Computer programmers are a group whose stories are marginalized, as required by the foundation. How often does anyone want to hear a tale of cisgender white male nerds writing code?

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