York University professor Vidya Shah is being accused of racism after going on a tirade on Thursday, claiming protocol, professionalism and conflict management are used by “whiteness” to “institutionalize lies, denials and cover-ups.”
The “anti-racist” education scholar made the claim on Twitter, while tweeting about disrupting “whiteness in leadership.”
I often get asked how to disrupt whiteness in leadership. My simple answer is to tell the truth and speak your truth. Whiteness institutionalizes lies, denials, & cover-ups and calls it "protocol", "professionalism", & "conflict management". No, it's dishonesty.— Vidya Shah (@VidyaShah6) May 25, 2023
“I often get asked how to disrupt whiteness in leadership. My simple answer is to tell the truth and speak your truth,” said Shah. “Whiteness institutionalizes lies, denials, & cover-ups and calls it ‘protocol’, ‘professionalism’, & ‘conflict management’. No, it’s dishonesty.”
Shah went on to say that “honesty has different consequences depending on positionalities and positions. Honesty that challenges institutional innocence, benevolence & success is punished. Covering up truths to maintain the ‘image’ of innocence, benevolence & success is protected. That’s whiteness.”
Shah was criticized for her tirade, including by Quilette senior editor Jonathan Kay who told True North that “Racism Is a Problem everywhere. But Canada is among the most ‘anti-racist’ places on earth. And a lot of us are tired of being gaslit by well-paid academics who make their livings pretending that we live in some ‘whiteness’-contaminated genocide state.”
“When I go to baseball games or disc golf or board game tournaments, or my volunteer gig at a food bank, you never hear a single human being spew this toxic ‘whiteness’ crap,” he added. “Real life is full of people of different skin colors, having fun and helping each other.”
Kay believes “the biggest source of publicly accepted racism in our country is now performative academic anti-racism. And it’s obscene that our tax dollars pay for it.”
Many on Twitter accused Shah of racism and race baiting. The professor opted to turn off replies amid being Ratioed.
You're such a racist. Shame.— Nicopoi (@GrandNicolas) May 25, 2023
Woo! Lots of tantrums on my Twitter today. Not my job. That's for your parents/ caregivers to deal with. Block!— Vidya Shah (@VidyaShah6) May 25, 2023
True North reached out to Shah to ask her what are the institutionalized lies, denials and cover-ups that she claims “whiteness” passes off as protocol, professionalism, and conflict management, but she did not respond in time for publication.
The Assistant Professor at York’s Faculty of Education is described on the university’s website as “an educator, scholar and activist committed to equity and racial justice in the service of liberatory education.”
Her biography also notes that her research “explores anti-racist and decolonial approaches to leadership in schools, communities, and school districts,” as well as “educational barriers to the success and well-being of Black, Indigenous, and racialized students.”
She teaches several courses at York, including one titled “Educating for Activism” and another titled “Teaching for Diverse & Equitable Classrooms in Ontario.”
Shah also heads The UnLeading Project, described as “a call to reclaim and redefine leadership,” a podcast that touches on social justice. She has published several publications touching on “whiteness” and racial justice in education.
In 2021, Shah wrote an article titled The Colour of Wellbeing: How do we ensure the wellbeing and success of BIPOC students and K-12 staff? In which she called for race, gender, sexuality, abilities, social class, and faith to be placed “at the center of approaches to student and staff wellbeing.”
She also co-authored an article with fellow York University education scholar Carl E. James titled Why critical race theory should inform schools.