Lessons Learned in a "Cultural Diversity" Seminar
Episode 2: A DEI circus seminar.
Editorial note: This is the second post in a multi-part series chronicling the experiences of a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. graduate student navigating and observing the ideology-induced decimation of his academic discipline. The first post in the series can be found below. -J.D.H.
Part II in the Series. Having already been exposed to a fair share of the cultural and ideological pathologies that are now endemic in higher education, I knew exactly what to expect from the mandated “cultural diversity” class that was soon to visit me within my PhD program. It should be said that some qualitatively similar variant of this class is required by the American Psychological Association (APA) to be taught in all clinical psychology PhD programs throughout the United States, insofar as said programs desire or intend to retain their accreditation status. For those who aren’t familiar, the APA is the accrediting body that grants all American clinical psychology PhD graduate programs their ostensible academic “legitimacy” (not least in the eyes of granting agencies that essentially fund the majority of scientific research and output).
Giants in the field of psychology, such as Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker, just recently promoted a petition on X to reject the woke ideology’s destruction of the field and profession of psychology. This petition was supposedly created in response to the picayune dreck written by the now former 2023 president of the APA, allegedly in response to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Whether arriving late or early, at this point, any respectable psychologist paying any attention at all has happened upon and become cognizant of the shape of this intellectual rot, most of which can be found in the “cultural diversity” courses in clinical PhD programs around the country.
The class was devoid of any clinical substance whatsoever, and saturated with collectivistic blood guilt. If one were to take this teachings of this class at naïve face value, one would come away believing that, (a) people ought to be best conceptualized as members of groups (i.e., racial/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation), (b) some groups are victims and some groups are oppressors, (c) the oppressors are the bad people, (d) the victims are the good people, and (e) the oppressors should be punished.
Notwithstanding the existence of some group-based psychotherapy modalities and schools of thought, the central and modal approach to one’s clients in psychotherapy is to treat the individual. Just as a lawyer representing a client that has been charged with murder would not defend that client in the same manner that he would defend all clients of his accused of murder, so too would a psychologist treating a Hispanic client in psychotherapy refrain from treating that client in the same manner that he would treat all clients of his who happen to be Hispanic. Independent of the likely imperfection of this analogy, this point is not complicated, and one would be wise to avoid taking anyone engaged in lucrative bloviating about things such as “nuance” or “internalization” with even a modicum of seriousness. Neither the fact of the individual being an accused murderer, nor the fact of the individual in psychotherapy being Hispanic give the lawyer or the psychologist even the minimal necessary information and data required to successfully defend the murderer in court or treat the Hispanic in psychotherapy, respectively. How could it be otherwise? One may decide it useful to make stereotypical or statistically likely inferences about the specific client based off of these univariate features, but doing so would yet still be only a methodologically crude and perfunctory approach in the pursuit of an understanding of the specific individual within a specific context, not “murderers” or “Hispanics”.
It has reached the point that we, meaning students, professors, academics, and all compos mentis adults alike, ought to stop taking these ideas and the people of whom they are in possession seriously; and we do so every time we spill drums upon drums of ink on something as absurd and outré as a defense of the innocence of Caucasian children, for example. These are not serious people, and they should be ignored (or perhaps better, laughed at) accordingly. Many of the noisier and au courant of these true believers have, apodictically, cluster B presentations. These are recalcitrant, uncivil, bitter, envious, emotionally dysregulated vulnerable narcissists, and we ought to stop acquiescing to their claims and demands, as doing so only serves to provide a semblance of verisimilitude to their positions and grievances.
I would not deign to describe the degree to which the substance of the class was devoid of any scientific influence or rigor, nor I will not attempt to convey the absolute moral confusion and depravity of its contents. Almost all the subject matter, topics, materials, and discussions that I had the absolute intellectual misfortune to sit through will be familiar to anyone that has followed the decimation of higher education for the past few years. What's more, many have already made similar noises elsewhere, and have done so quite thoroughly and revealingly (see below):
What I will attempt to illustrate is my personal experience with my refusing to go along with, or pledge my tacit allegiance to this cultic, pseudoscientific set of axioms and their concomitant conclusions and consequences.
Other than my permanent and assiduous efforts to be as invisible as one could possibly manage, and to avoid being compelled to agree with or respond to whatever pablum was being ubiquitously nodded at at any given time, I have to believe that my first infraction in the professor’s eye was my handling of an “interview project”. Unsurprisingly enough, this project required students to interview someone of a different race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or gender, and to ask them questions about their particular intersectional umwelt that creatures such as themselves were in possession of. We were to record the conversation, write on it (e.g., what we learned, etc.), and turn each in.
I interviewed a woman that I had known since I was an adolescent, who escaped child enslavement under the Castro regime before the Cuban liquidation. Now retired, for many years she held very high-up and prestigious positions within the United States Government. I thought it was clever at least.
Without belaboring the details, we spoke for approximately 90 minutes; enthralled, I listened intently as she shared with me her horrific autobiography of child enslavement, her fathers’ crimes against and punishments by the state (i.e., conducting business), the difficulties she had in acquiring the English language, and the obstacles she encountered in the process of assimilation in her youth. I was and still am in unparalleled admiration and awe of this woman. She is impeccable in character and impossible to dislike.
Knowing exactly what I was doing, in so many words I proceeded to ask her questions about collectivistic ideologies, blood guilt, resentment, envy, bitterness, tenacity, responsibility, loci of control, identity, victimhood, oppression, and her overall philosophy and ontology. Having known her for over a decade at this point, all I had to do was ask her position on some of the topics discussed in class. She of course rose to the occasion and was the pure antithetical embodiment of everything that comprised the class material.
This may come as a surprise to some, but after submitting the write-up of the discussion, I was told by the professor that, (a) she found it interesting, and (b) that I did not complete the assignment correctly. I was ‘punished’ accordingly by the grade received or earned, depending on whom one is asking. At the time I suspected it likely that she didn’t even believe I did an interview, given how perfectly insulting it was to her ideology as a true believer. This brown woman couldn’t exist; she can’t exist. Nice try.
I should mention that, (a) the instructions for the assignment were exactly as bare and vague as written above, and (b) there were no grading standards outlined in the syllabus for this class; meaning, the quality of the work was to be determined by the professor’s opinion of it, not it’s adherence to or satisfaction of a set of standardized metrics of quality.
Perhaps the most self-sabotaging error I committed, if the previous was not sufficient, was my handling of the final assignment. This assignment was a paper on “identity reflection”, where we were to “reflect” on how our “life experiences” have “shaped us” and “our worldview”. Some of these terms may sound familiar to those who have had the egregious misfortune of being acquainted with “struggle sessions”. We were also blessed with an invitation to, “…comment on issues of power and privilege…other contextual or social justice issues impacting you throughout your life”. I thought to myself, “funny that you should mention that! A perfect example is happening to me at this very moment!”. This may sound too biting a reaction to the assignment, but for the true believers of this parasitical and intellectually caustic system of beliefs, these words and phrases are polysemous, and their usages are strategically and tactfully surreptitious. Given the context, a charitable reading would be synonymous with a naive one. This professor was not a useful idiot.
My academic performance mattered very much to me, at least once I enrolled in graduate school, and I knew there was no way of avoiding the assignment; I didn’t know what to do, and was troubled for weeks.
When the time came, I decided that I could not do what I was tacitly being told to do, however indirectly. I wrote the paper honestly, thoroughly, and respectively, with care and professionalism. I wrote what I thought, what I knew, and what I believed, and not a word that I did not. I decided to keep my self-respect and intellectual integrity. Without disclosing too much detail for the purposes of anonymity, I eventually learned that the costs of preserving these personal values would be large, both academically and interpersonally. Now, upon reflection, the ‘punishments’ received will likely have only a small effect on my future aspirations, intentions, and goals, but at the time, the uncertainty and the consternation that ensued were not pleasant to endure.
I was eventually told by the professor that I “failed to engage with the material”. Make of that what you will, but I code that as, “you didn’t say what you were supposed to say, agree with what you were supposed to agree with, confess to what you were supposed to confess to, or express/convey your membership and commitment to what you were supposed to”. Recall that there were no objective standards of grading or evaluation of work in this class; the quality of ones work was what the professor says the quality of ones work was.
One may conclude upon reading this that perhaps I am being too cynical, too paranoid; maybe it was just simply a poorly written paper, and that I deserved on merit exactly the consequences I received. I wish I had a way to definitively know. But I don’t believe that I am being unnecessarily cynical or paranoid for that matter. I think that I have seen enough, and I think that, inter alia, I was learning my lesson.
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