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Washington University in St Louis is hosting an event claiming ‘professionalism is racist’

Washington University in St Louis hosts an event claiming ‘professionalism is racist’ because it ‘silences marginalized people of color’

  • Washington University in St. Louis is hosting an hourlong virtual event dubbed: ‘Is professionalism a racist concept?’
  • Event organizers contend the term is inappropriate because a person’s appearance has ‘nothing to do with job knowledge’ 
  • ‘So-called professionalism is coded language, a construct that upholds institutional racist policies and excluding practices,’ the event synopsis says
  •  The forum was widely mocked on social media, with one user calling it ‘utterly insane’


A Missouri university is hosting an online forum that will explore whether the term ‘professionalism’ is racist – and according to the event’s synopsis, it is.

The February 1 presentation at Washington University’s St. Louis campus centers around a term defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.’

An explainer for the upcoming virtual event reads: ‘The term “professionalism” has at times been used to silence and marginalize people of color, when attributes of appearance, language or interactions that have nothing to do with job knowledge or constructive collegial relationships are labeled as “unprofessional”. 

‘In this context, so-called professionalism is coded language, a construct that upholds institutional racist policies and excluding practices.’

As of Monday, 13 people expressed interest in the event, which is being hosted by assistant dean of community partnerships Cynthia Williams and Jewel Stafford, director of the field education office’s racial equity fellowship program. 

Employees at Washington University’s St. Louis campus are posing the question: ‘Is professionalism a racist construct?’ They’ll lead a discussion on the topic during an hourlong forum slated for February 1

Cynthia Williams

Jewel Stafford

The event will be hosted by assistant dean of community partnerships Cynthia Williams (left) and Jewel Stafford, director of the field education office’s racial equity fellowship program (right)

The event hosts did not respond to a DailyMail.com query, but Stafford’s research is focused on ‘examining racial/ethnic health disparities among medically underserved communities, specifically black populations,’ according to her online university bio.

The site says Williams is ‘a skilled and highly motivated professional with 37 years of experience in academia.’ 

During the hourlong discussion that will kick off Black History Month, the conversation also will touch on bringing down ‘white supremacy.’

‘This presentation will explore dismantling white supremacy and privilege in varied contexts while upholding social justice and advancing effective workplaces in which all contributors can bring their full selves to the job site,’ the event description says.

Social media users opened fire at the university after learning of the upcoming forum, which coincides with the start of Black History Month

Social media users opened fire at the university after learning of the upcoming forum, which coincides with the start of Black History Month

The forum was widely mocked on social media.

‘This should be a joke,’ Ben Thompson said on Facebook. ‘Instead it’s actually garbage being taught. Proper English, a solid work ethic, knowledge, etc… are racist. Professionalism is racist…. This country is a laughing stock. 

‘No other country on this planet is destroying itself like this one is. This is utterly insane.’

Others turned to Twitter to express their dismay.

‘Washington University pushing racism courses,’ @PatriciaNIzzo1 tweeted. ‘These Administrators need to be fired now! Where are the Parents who are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars tuition?’

Added @hcaito46: ‘Can you get any more STUPID than this! If I were an alumnus, I would never give this “woke” factory another penny or even think about sending my kid there!’

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