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White Firefighters Told They’ve Caused ‘Racial Harm’

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A diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program for firefighters and medics in King County, Washington, faced backlash from employees, leading to its suspension.

The training, aimed at addressing racism and gender inclusion, required white staff to confront their racist tendencies and acknowledge racial biases.

“Critics, including several King County firefighters, challenged the training’s political undertones and its potential infringement on personal beliefs, particularly regarding gender identity,” radio host Jason Rantz said. “The training’s failure could jeopardize participants’ EMT certifications, demanding acknowledgment of endless genders and an inherent racial bias among White staff.”

The program, influenced by critical race theory, caused controversy among employees, prompting concerns about compromising personal beliefs for EMT recertification.

“The training, titled ‘Stronger Together: An introduction to anti-racism and gender inclusion,’ aimed to instill empathy, awareness, and dignity in patient care, yet its execution ignited pushback. It suggested White staff members inherently harbored ‘racist or sexist views’ and had caused ‘racial harm at some point.’ They were even told that they ‘cannot be “not racist,”‘” Rantz said.

“It is important for White people to understand the distinction between being publicly shamed for a racist act vs. feeling internalized shame while being held accountable for racism,” one slide read.

Despite support for DEI training, some felt it needed retooling to be more inclusive.

“Following feedback from numerous members expressing concerns about the test, and after consultations with several fire chiefs who echoed these concerns from their respective teams, we collectively decided to suspend this training through the SKCFTC (South King County Fire Training Consortium),” Renton Fire Chief Steve Heitman wrote.

“What troubles me are certain test questions that might compel members to compromise their personal beliefs or values in order to pass, a requisite for EMT recertification,” Heitman said. “This potential conflict may place members in the difficult positions of choosing between their deeply held convictions and their professional roles as firefighters/EMTs.”

Heitman noted that “there was unanimous support from the Chiefs for training aimed at diversity and inclusion and its importance to what we do,” noting that the training was not intended to be “divisive” but “may need some retooling to be more inclusive.”

The incident reflects broader concerns about politicized training in King County.

“King County has been doing this ‘anti-racist’ crap long before Ibram X Kendi came around,” a King County firefighter said.

“We’ve never had issues or problems providing care to people of different backgrounds in emergency scenarios, if you call 911 everyone gets the same care based on the given reason they called,” he said.

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