Coca-Cola Under Fire for Overtly Racist Employee Training: 'Try to Be Less White'


Finally. It’s been a while since we had a good Robin DiAngelo outrage.

Sure, “White Fragility” is still near the top of the bestseller list, although it’s no longer part of the cultural conversation like it was last summer. DiAngelo is no longer omnipresent, acting as the white savior for pop critical race theory. I was beginning to think she’d slunk back to doing corporate racial sensitivity circuit, where she honed her routine, except there aren’t any auditoriums for her to fill up anymore.

Me of little faith. DiAngelo is back at her old hustle, but she’s updated it for the social distancing era. Much like one of those pre-recorded MasterClass courses, DiAngelo has taken to preaching her thoughts on race relations via LinkedIn Learning.

Those MasterClass courses often last between three and five hours in total. “Confronting Racism, with Robin DiAngelo” breezes by in 49 minutes, 39 seconds. Draw your own conclusions.

If you want to access it on your own, you’d have to pay $29.99 a month for LinkedIn Learning, or $19.99 a month if you sign up yearly. (You also get one free month, so if you think you can absorb all 49 minutes of wisdom contained therein, I suppose there’s that method.)

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So, who would pay for this? Coca-Cola, at some level — which apparently offered DiAngelo’s course, where white people were told to try to be less white, to interested employees via LinkedIn Learning.

But perhaps, as a white male, I’m reading too much into things, misinterpreting DiAngelo’s message through my conservative bias. For instance, I got the feeling she wants participants to try to be less white from just a single slide in the training program. It reads: “Try to be less white.” Maybe I’m misinterpreting things.

Images from the program were uploaded by conservative social media influencer Karlyn Borysenko, who said she obtained them from a Coca-Cola internal whistleblower.

The screen shots seem to confirm this is indeed Robin DiAngelo’s LinkedIn Learning course, which manages a lot of outrageousness in just under 50 minutes, according to The Federalist.

First, there’s the usual circular logic: “Nothing exempts any white person from the forces of racism,” DiAngelo said. “When you accept the reality of your socialization, you can begin to examine how you’ve been shaped by it.”

It’s almost a bit religious. If you recognize you’re a racist, the new stand-in for being a sinner, you can ask absolution from the diaspora of wokeness. (Not quite God, or even close — but this is a poor substitute for dogma, as well.) If you don’t acknowledge you’re a racist, you’re even worse off than those who have already confessed their sins and donned the hair-shirt.

We’re all racists, some have just accepted our racism and asked for forgiveness. For that, they won’t be chucked into the lake of fire.

The doctrine of original sin also gets repackaged as near-original racism.

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“In the U.S. and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white,” DiAngelo said. “Research shows that by age 3 to 4, children understand that it is better to be white.”

And then we have the white Pharisees, ever ready to plot against moments of critical race theory a-wokening.

“Any moment of black advancement is met with a backlash of white rage and resentment,” DiAngelo asserted. “I think we’re in a current moment of that after eight years of Obama.”

Also, don’t try to hide behind the whole colorblind society nonsense. Robin DiAngelo sees you. When a white person tells her, “I was taught to treat everyone the same,” she thinks, “This person doesn’t understand basic socialization. This person doesn’t understand culture. This person is not self-aware.”

So what does it mean to be less white?

“[B]e less oppressive … [B]e less arrogant … [B]e less certain … [B]e less defensive … [B]e less ignorant … [B]e more humble … [L]isten … [B]elieve. [B]reak with apathy. [B]reak with white solidarity,” a slide reads.

Here’s Borysenko breaking it down:

In a statement that expertly threaded the needle, Coca-Cola seemed to disavow including the video in its curriculum while still not denying that employees who wanted to access it were able to.

“The video and images attributed to a Coca-Cola training program are not part of the company’s learning curriculum,” the company said.

“Our Better Together global training is part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace. It is comprised of a number of short vignettes, each a few minutes long. The training includes access to the LinkedIn Learning platform on a variety of topics, including on diversity, equity and inclusion.

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“The video in question was accessible on the LinkedIn Learning platform but was not part of the company’s curriculum. We will continue to listen to our employees and refine our learning programs as appropriate.”

Here’s what I took away from that statement: The controversial video in question is publicly available and not part of the curriculum. Coca-Cola’s curriculum has “a number of short vignettes, each a few minutes long.” Employees can also go on LinkedIn Learning, which is where this video was available.

Assuming the company’s statement is accurate, it’s certainly a good thing no employees were forced to watch this video. The fact that it was offered at all, though — even implicitly — does raise some problems.

If Coca-Cola wants to make a workplace that’s diverse and inclusive of everyone, perhaps it shouldn’t implicitly offer employees access to such divisive “training” videos like DiAngelo’s — which only serve to divide, not bring people together. And perhaps it should have clarified things — like it did in the statement above — before coming under intense fire.

It’s not oversensitivity to think that defining the personality of an entire race as oppressive, arrogant, over-certain, defensive, ignorant, egotistical, non-listening, unbelieving and apathetic is fairly problematic as workplace training. Coca-Cola should have known better.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture