Washington state’s King County excluded white staff from a health workshop and Seattle radio host Jason Rantz joined ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ to discuss the incident and the decision for the exclusion. There is also an apparent coverup he exposed and an employee resignation over the incident.
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Rantz also posted an article on MyNorthWest explaining the situation in more detail, saying the following:
A King County agency hosted a radical seminar that claimed dieting and traditional concepts of health are racist. But it was the rules for who could attend that were racist: it purposefully excluded white people.
In fact, when a white person showed up, he was banned from the meeting. And county officials tried to cover this controversy up.
The King County Department of Human Resources announced the remote workshop, “Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture,” in an all-staff email newsletter. It was part of the county’s Balanced You program, which focuses on staff wellness. Tacoma-based Liberating Jasper, which conducted the workshop, claims dieting is harmful to black people, and that “Western ideals of attractiveness and health are steeped in whiteness.” It even implies that obesity can be healthy.
White staffer booted from the workshop
One white King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) staffer was banned from the Feb. 17 workshop due to his race.
According to the complaint, obtained via public disclosure request, the incident occurred moments after the staffer turned on his webcam.
“During the first few minutes I had my front facing camera turned off and was enjoying the training,” the employee said in an email to Interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall. “I turned my front facing camera on and was promptly removed from the training. I am a White male County employee. I said nothing in the training and my microphone was on mute. I tried to rejoin the training and was blocked from doing so as it said I was removed by the host.”
In his email complaint, the staffer asked if other attendees were removed, but concluded, “I was kicked out of a work training session based solely on the color of my skin.”
Cole-Tindall forwarded the complaint to the county Balanced You staff, demanding an answer.
The initial excuse
In an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, Executive Constantine’s office confirmed the KCSO staffer was banned from the workshop. But initially, spokesperson Chase Gallagher blamed it on a technical error.
Gallagher said, “the vendor had technical issues on their end with the session, which impacted several people that got bumped out and then weren’t able to rejoin.”
That same message was delivered to the KCSO complainant.
“I’m so sorry you had this experience, we were navigating some technology issues today and weren’t fully able to come back online,” Shawna Johnson, Employee Health & Well-Being Specialist responded.
The KCSO staffer told Johnson that he found her claim hard to believe and again asked if anyone else was removed from the room.
“…yes, there were other employees dropped from the conversation. I apologize for each of your inability to participate in the full conversation and as previously conveyed, will send you the slide deck materials for reference,” Johnson responded.
But this was not true. The complainant was removed because he is white.
The investigation uncovered a lie
After the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH asked about the incident, county spokesperson Gallagher says he “was told that there were technical difficulties faced by the vendor that resulted in several participants being removed and unable to rejoin, and not a deliberate act.”
But after an internal investigation, it became clear: an unidentified staff member lied about what happened.
“Following your inquiry and subsequent information received by staff, an investigation occurred to gather all the facts and full understanding of the events that took place,” Gallagher told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “That investigation found in fact there was a deliberate decision by one of the employees involved in the session to remove an individual from the event. The information provided by that employee led to the response that was relayed to you, which we know now was not accurate.”
When the investigation was complete, the “employee resigned their position.”
There was also a second white employee who was unable to get back into the room after being removed. But a review of internal documents does not make it clear whether this was intentional or an actual technical error since she received a different error than her white coworker.
“I tried to rejoin the Anti-Blackness and Diet Culture workshop, I had to go to another computer with sound but I [sic] all I got was the message below and was never let in. Could you let me know why?” she wrote.
She attached a screenshot of a message that read, “Please wait, the meeting host will let you in soon.”
It’s hard to imagine why a county staffer thought it was wise (or even legal) to ban participants from a taxpayer-funded seminar on the basis of race. But emails obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH indicate the intent of the event was always to exclude white staff.