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Johns Hopkins rescinds DEI memo calling white, Christian, English-speaking people privileged

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on Wednesday rescinded an email sent recently from its diversity, equity and inclusion chief that called white, Christian, English-speaking people privileged, among several other “social identity groups,” according to screenshots of the memo posted on X.

Others listed on the privileged list included: able-bodied people, heterosexuals, cisgender people, middle or owning class people, and middle-aged people.

The January 2024 memo was sent Dr. Sherita Golden, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s chief diversity officer and a professor of medicine, who listed “privilege” as the “diversity word of the month.” It was sent to employees, according to End Wokeness, the X account that posted the screenshots.

The DEI memo stated in part that “privileges are unearned and are granted to people in the dominant groups whether they want that privilege or not, and regardless of their stated intent.”

The post on X went viral — viewed more than 29 million times in the span of 24 hours — and was widely ridiculed.

The top comment stated: “Black female Chief Diversity Officers are more privileged than nearly everyone covered under that list. They’re paid far more than the average middle class person, and they have the privilege of being hired and treated above criticism because of their race and sex.”

Another popular response stated: “Middle aged people? So now just being alive makes you an oppressor?”

The post even prompted a reaction from Elon Musk, who stated: “This must end!”

The backlash prompted Golden to apologize for her memo, a screenshot of which was also posted on X by the End Wokeness account. She called her letter “overly simplistic and poorly worded” and retracted the memo, which she acknowledged was “hurtful.”

In a statement Thursday to The National Desk, a Johns Hopkins Medicine spokesperson said the memo did not represent its values: “The January edition of the monthly newsletter from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity used language that contradicts the values of Johns Hopkins as an institution. Dr. Sherita Golden, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Chief Diversity Officer, has sincerely acknowledged this mistake and retracted the language used in the message.”

Johns Hopkins is no stranger to advancing DEI, with anti-racism and racial justice trainings and a recommended reading list of progressive, pro-critical race theory books, for example.

MORE: Johns Hopkins to scrub name of English professorship due to slavery link

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