‘Apparently, I am the wrong kind of black’: California equity director fired for viewpoint diversity
Dr. Tabia Lee alleges that she was fired from De Anza College’s Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multiracial Education because she does not subscribe to anti-racist “orthodoxy.”
"Absolute compliance with the new authoritarian order is veritably guaranteed and opportunities for diverse viewpoints to be expressed are crushed and silenced at every turn.”
Editor's Note: This article was updated after publication with context and comment provided by Dr. Tabia Lee.
Dr. Tabia Lee, faculty director for the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education at De Anza College, alleges that she is being terminated for not adhering to anti-racist “orthodoxy.”
Lee, a Black woman who grew up in central California, was fired last week from her position as a tenure track Faculty Director for the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education at the community college in Cupertino, California, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Among the alleged reasons for Lee’s termination include her objection to the school’s indigenous land acknowledgment statement, successful hosting of a “Jewish Inclusion” event, her reasoned objection to “Latinx” and “Filipinx,” and her questioning of the ideological implications of capitalizing “Black” and lowercasing “White” in the school’s official Educational Master Plan.
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In particular, Lee’s thoughts on race in America are heterodox compared to the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) status quo.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideologies “have become dominant in educational discourse and beyond, threatening to push us backwards and further into the deeps of racial strife and division,” Lee argues in a February 28 article published on Substack in the peer-reviewed Journal of Free Black Thought.
“[A] hyper-focus on redefining racism as systemic and a promotion of equity over equality,” Lee reasons, “have done more harm than good.”
In response to Campus Reform’s request for comment, Lee clarified that “[i]t is not my intention to advance any singular political, racial, religious, or gender ideology above the others but to create learning conditions where the individual [teacher] has access to discover and uncover multiple ideologies” that inform their pedagogy.
“My approach has been deemed unacceptable by a small but vocal number of administrative and faculty members at De Anza College who have expressed to me that teaching about multiple ideologies around equity work is unacceptable,” Lee continued.
Lee told Campus Reform that “the push for [her] termination started two weeks into [her] employment” at De Anza. Countering these attacks, Lee has been involved with the legal advocacy group the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), according to a January 15 video in which Lee credits FAIR for her continued employment prior to her official termination last week.
As Lee articulated in her February article, “an individual California Community College faculty member’s deviation from, questioning, or dissent about the prevailing [racial] orthodoxy opens them up to vicious slander, libel, and ostracization.”
Dr. Tabia Lee entertained a divergent viewpoint. She questioned an orthodoxy. It cost her her job.
We are ready to challenge @deanza_college and advocate for Dr. Lee’s constitutional rights and civil liberties ⚖️💙
Learn more about her story: https://t.co/W1jLpKGlX2
— Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) (@fairforall_org) March 9, 2023 m:12pt;">
Other professors who hold similar perspectives on DEI and CRT ideologies have also experienced pushback from fellow faculty and their administrations.
Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow Nicholas Giordano has similarly observed that overzealous DEI efforts have “had a chilling effect on college campuses as the cancel culture mob seeks to destroy those who speak out.”
University of Alabama geology professor Matthew Wielicki, who publicly announced his voluntary departure from academia due to the influence of DEI, concurred, noting that “you’re essentially required to toe the line and state your ideological values as they want them stated” to advance your career.
Lee perceives, however, that her termination is in part because her viewpoint does not correspond to how leftists presume that she ought to think based upon her race.
In a statement posted by FAIR on Twitter, Lee is quoted as saying that the college “said they wanted a black person to do this job. Apparently, I am the wrong kind of black."
On Monday, @deanza_college voted out Dr. Tabia Lee, who was serving her dream job as Faculty Director for the Office of Equity, Social Justice, & Multicultural Education. Lee says, "they said they wanted a black person to do this job. Apparently, I am the wrong kind of black." pic.twitter.com/98SzeLWh9M
— Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) (@fairforall_org) March 9, 2023
“[I]n such a climate,” as Lee wrote on Substack in February, “absolute compliance with the new authoritarian order is veritably guaranteed and opportunities for diverse viewpoints to be expressed are crushed and silenced at every turn.”
De Anza College has not responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment, but Inside Higher Ed reports that the College’s spokesperson refused to comment on personnel matters.
Lee has also not responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment.
This developing story will be updated accordingly.
Follow Gabrielle M. Etzel on Twitter.