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American Express had great-grandson of Nation of Islam’s founder tell staff capitalism is ‘racist’


American Express invited the great-grandson of the Nation of Islam’s founder to tell its staff capitalism is ‘racist’ and has put workers through critical race theory (CRT) training to teach them to ‘identify their privileges’ and ‘not speak over black colleagues’.

Internal documents, obtained by Manhattan Institute Fellow Christopher F. Rufo for the New York Post, show how the credit card giant – which saw its revenue swell to a whopping $31.36 billion last year – is telling its workforce behind the scenes that the same capitalist system that pays their salaries was founded on ‘exploitative extractive systemic racism.’   

The documents include a promo page and partial transcript for a company event where Khalil Muhammad, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, was invited to speak.  

In it, Muhammad told Amex workers that capitalism was based on ‘racist logics and forms of domination’ and urged the credit card giant’s execs and workforce to look at their own company’s role in that system.  

Amex’s revenue grew 6.5 percent in the last fiscal year while profits for the last quarter topped $2.3 billion. CEO Stephen Squeri took home a total salary package of $24.2 million in 2020, including $7.8 million total cash, $15.9 million equity and $500,000 in other compensation.    

Other documents, provided by whistleblowers, also reveal how Amex created an ‘anti-racism initiative’ for its workforce covering topics including ‘systemic racism’, ‘white privilege’ and ‘microaggressions.’ 

American Express invited the great-grandson of the Nation of Islam’s founder to tell its staff capitalism is ‘racist’ and put them through critical race theory (CRT) training to ‘identify their privileges’ and ‘not speak over black colleagues’

Khalil Muhammad, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, was invited to speak to Amex staff. Muhammad (pictured) told Amex workers that capitalism was based on 'racist logics and forms of domination'

Khalil Muhammad, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, was invited to speak to Amex staff. Muhammad (pictured) told Amex workers that capitalism was based on ‘racist logics and forms of domination’

The event with Muhammad, called ‘A Conversation about Race in America: Reflecting on our History and ‘the American Dream’, took place in September via web stream. 

In it, Muhammad described capitalism as ‘racial capitalism’ and said Amex and its staffers are ‘complicit’ in giving privilege to some races over others. 

‘We can’t understand the actual capital that fueled the first industrial revolution and the second industrial revolution – the thing that the standard economist will tell you when you’re in business school, that it’s classical economics, the kind that Adam Smith celebrated as the best way to distribute resources in the world – without understanding that none of that happened without racist logics and forms of domination that affected the entire globe,’ he said.

He continued: ‘American Express has to do its own digging about how it sits in relationship to this history of racial capitalism. 

‘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 said the company has profited from ‘exploitative extractive systemic racism’ and that it, if the company ‘cares about racial justice in the world’, it needs to address societal imbalance.

Muhammad's speech is seen above where he said Amex and its staffers are 'complicit' in 'racial capitalism'

Muhammad’s speech is seen above where he said Amex and its staffers are ‘complicit’ in ‘racial capitalism’

What the Amex anti-racism training teaches ‘privileged’ staff? 

  • To know when to speak up and act versus when to instead ‘amplify’ a minority member of the group
  • Identify the privileges or advantages you have
  • Don’t speak over black colleagues
  • Don’t use the phrase: ‘Where are you from?’ 
  • Don’t use other microaggressions including: ‘I don’t see color’; ‘We are all human beings’; ‘You are so articulate; ‘I’m not a racist, I have black friends’; and ‘Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough’

This means Amex being ‘willing to accept smaller profit margins in certain business lines’, he said, and forgo maximizing profits to be more inclusive to black communities.  

‘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 event was part of Amex’s anti-racism initiative set up amid the nationwide racial justice reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd, reported Rufo, who is working on a series ‘exposing critical race theory in America’s Fortune 100 companies’.  

The ‘ECG Anti-Racism Initiative’ appears to have been made in partnership between Amex’s Colleague Experience Group – its new name for the human resources function – and an external diversity and inclusion consulting firm called Paradigm – with both mentioned in the documents. 

In one of the training documents, Paradigm teaches staff what allyship is and why it is important. 

In that section, employees are encouraged to map out their own social identities such as race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, disability status, age, gender identity citizenship onto a worksheet.

They then use this graphic to determine where they stand on a hierarchy of identity and privilege in the workplace.  

Other documents also reveal how Amex created an 'anti-racism initiative' for its workforce covering topics including 'systemic racism', 'white privilege' and 'microaggressions'

Other documents also reveal how Amex created an ‘anti-racism initiative’ for its workforce covering topics including ‘systemic racism’, ‘white privilege’ and ‘microaggressions’

The documents show Amex set up its 'Anti-Racism Initiative' with an external diversity and inclusion consulting firm called Paradigm

The documents show Amex set up its ‘Anti-Racism Initiative’ with an external diversity and inclusion consulting firm called Paradigm

In one of the training documents, Paradigm teaches staff what allyship is and why it is important. In that section, employees are encourages to map out their own social identities to determine where they stand on a hierarchy of identity and privilege in the workplace

In one of the training documents, Paradigm teaches staff what allyship is and why it is important. In that section, employees are encourages to map out their own social identities to determine where they stand on a hierarchy of identity and privilege in the workplace

Another document then provides ways for employees to change their behavior in the office to become better allies based on their privilege

Another document then provides ways for employees to change their behavior in the office to become better allies based on their privilege

Another document then provides ways for employees to change their behavior in the office to become better allies based on their privilege. 

Examples of this include embracing discomfort, noticing inequity and knowing when to speak up and act versus when to instead ‘amplify’ a member of a group who is more negatively impacted by hierarchies and privileges. 

This relates to interacting with black, female and LGBT employees, reported the Post. 

Another handout instructs white employees how to be an allies for their black and African-American colleagues.

These included examples such as ‘identify the privileges or advantages you have’; ‘don’t speak over members of the black and African-American community’, and ‘when someone trusts you enough to share their personal experiences, believe what they’re saying and don’t make assumptions or give unsolicited advice.’

White employees were also taught about microaggressions – defined as ‘brief statements or behaviors that, intentionally or not, communicate a negative message about a minority group.’  

White employees were also taught about microaggressions - defined as 'brief statements or behaviors that, intentionally or not, communicate a negative message about a minority group'

White employees were also taught about microaggressions – defined as ‘brief statements or behaviors that, intentionally or not, communicate a negative message about a minority group’

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?  

The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.

The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.

The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.

Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.

Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.

One document listed such phrases and pointed out what they can imply to people of color.

These included: ‘Where are you from?’ suggesting that an individual’s ‘racial/ethnic ambiguity confuses me, you are not American, you are foreign.’

Other microaggressions listed were: ‘I don’t see color’; ‘We are all human beings’; ‘You are so articulate; ‘I’m not a racist, I have black friends’; and ‘Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough.’

One phrase especially highlighted was: ‘Why are we saying ‘Black Lives Matter?’ Don’t all lives matter?’ 

Another training document points to additional resources and reading materials for learners including the ‘Beyond Prisons’ podcast, which calls for the abolition of the prison system, and articles called ‘Children are not colorblind’ and ‘The case for reparations.’

It is not clear if the CRT training is voluntary or mandated for Amex staff.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Amex for comment.  

However, it comes as the company announced a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion in recent months. 

In October, Amex announced a $1 billion action plan to advance its diversity, inclusion and equity priorities.

This plan includes internal and external initiatives, a commitment to 100 percent pay equity and increasing diverse representation among its workforce. 

The debate around anti-racist teachings and CRT has erupted in recent months across America, and has largely been focused on teachings in schools.

Conservatives claim it teaches children to regard themselves as ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on skin color.

Meanwhile, liberals say it is vital to understand how race impacts society in order to eliminate racism.     



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