After I raised the issue of the belittling and racial attacks by BLM supporters to Human Resources, my Hub post was removed, I was instructed not to discuss what I experienced via any company communications channel, and I was given no support or indication of any supportive actions.
At a loss, I sent an email about my experience to my colleagues and to senior leadership, for which I was fired. That email is copied below, in full.
Subject: My Personal Experience of Racism At Thomson Reuters
From: Kriegman, Zac (TR Technology) <Zac.Kriegman@thomsonreuters.com>
[Because Thomson Reuters will not allow a discussion of these critical issues via the Hub, I am trying to raise awareness on the only platform available to me. You can also reach me at my person email: <<email address redacted>>]
Dear Thomson Reuters Community,
As part of an effort to address racial hostility in the Thomson Reuters work environment, I am sharing a recent personal experience of being on the receiving end of a series of racist and abusive attacks in the workplace. The intention of this post is to raise awareness of racism within the company and not to shame or humiliate anyone, and for that reason I will not share the names of any of the people involved. While it can be uncomfortable to hear and discuss people’s accounts of how they have personally experienced racism in the workplace, I believe that we must become comfortable with uncomfortable conversations in order to effectively tackle workplace racism.
Some of you may have noticed my recent Hub post entitled "BLM Spreads Falsehoods That Have Led to the Murders of Thousands of Black People in the Most Disadvantaged Communities", where I carefully examine the best research findings coming from the most respected research institutions in our country about BLM and its impacts.
I published that post because I could no longer live with myself in an environment where people freely expressed uninformed support for a movement inflicting such devastation on the most disadvantaged black communities, without, at the very least, offering an alternative perspective based on research and evidence. As someone who has been closely following the scholarship about the movement and its impacts, I felt it was my ethical and moral duty to try to raise awareness. Silence is violence.
Action became more urgent when Thomson Reuters began to inject pro-BLM political propaganda into the workplace through a series of official company events that invited BLM activists to the company, where they proceeded to spread some of the very falsehoods that have so devastated disadvantaged black communities.
Thus, I began to write a post taking a close look at the scholarly research findings regarding BLM. My post went through a number of iterations, including consultation with <<name redacted>>, from HR, and <<name redacted>>, the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, who both gave me invaluable feedback about how to edit the post to reduce the chances that it would come across as antagonistic or provocative to BLM supporters. My intention was to raise awareness and engage in constructive dialogue, and not to antagonize. Eventually, I found an iteration that, after being carefully reviewed by Thomson Reuters Hub moderators, was approved for posting.
It was with no small amount of trepidation that I had proceeded to publish my post, and, it turns out, I had good reason for concern. Almost immediately, my post started to receive a barrage of bizarre, hateful, abusive, and ultimately extremely racist comments from Thomson Reuters employees.
For example, one commenter condemned the stats that I presented in my post (which were taken directly from official government sources) as “inaccurate”, “false and/or fraudulent” based on a bizarre race fantasy where Native Americans are actually Black Aborigines from Africa, and therefore the standard figure of 13% for the Black population in the USA is wildly inaccurate:
I would like to point out that most (if not All) of the statistics in relation to population size or population percentage are false and/or fraudulent, due to very simple logical reasons. All the stats comparing whites to blacks are inaccurate... Since 1492, when Columbus set sail for the Americas, America was vastly populated by Aborigines who are today classified as 'blacks' or African American. We always hear that blacks are 13% of the population but this is also False. How can so called 'blacks' comprise of 13% of Americas population for all this time when they have always been indigenous (Aborigines) to America and their numbers are still growing?... Once, they were classified as Indians, then they became colored's, then negro, now they're classified as African American/black.
Fully 13 Thomson Reuters employees expressed their approval of condemning my post based on this race fantasy by publicly "liking" it and attaching their names to it. If it were only a single disturbed individual it would be easier to ignore his troubling condemnation. However, with 13 people publicly expressing their agreement, it began to feel like there was some kind of group harassment going on.
Shocked, I proceeded to ask the people who had publicly “liked” this condemnation of my post, “Do any of you see any issues with the ‘facts’ that he is citing in the paragraph quoted above?” Merely for asking for that clarification from them, they proceeded to accuse me of being confrontational, unprofessional, and harassing. For example, one of them declared:
I'm very concerned that tagging people into a discussion, in such a confrontational manner, is not only highly unprofessional but borderline harassing behavior.
As another example, a BLM supporter denounced my post as "embarrassing", "confused" and "laughable", and declared that it's not "worth engaging" with my post or "trying to have an intelligent discussion about it" because "No one who cites this kind of evidence should be taken seriously". He then proceeded to call me names (a "troll") and denounce my post as "nonsense". Later he analogized my post, which is raising awareness of damage being done to black communities, as equivalent to someone saying "The KKK did lots of good things for the community—prove me wrong".
According to that commenter, my sin was quoting Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay University, which according to U.S. News and World Reports has one of the top 10 criminology graduate programs nationally. Moskos has a MA and PhD from Harvard and AB from Princeton University, and as a professor at one of the top programs in the country, is clearly a highly respected expert in his field. Nevertheless, because the quote I cited appeared in a right leaning newspaper, The Washington Times, this BLM supporter thought that provided sufficient grounds to denounce not only the quote from the expert, and my entire post, but also me personally as a human being. This, despite the fact that this one quote was the only quote take from a right leaning newspaper in a post that contained dozens of citations and quotes, including many to left leaning newspapers.
It was after this point that the vile attacks on me became overtly racist. For example, another BLM supporter wrote:
"You seem intent upon only proving your own bias. As a white person I am embarrassed and ashamed for you. We, as white folks, should NEVER presume to speak for people of color - which is what you've chosen to do. It seems you enjoy doing research that confirms your bias but you might consider some reading that challenges these biases and contains actual, factual facts. In addition to <<name redacted>>'s suggestion (which I've read and highly recommend), "The New Jim Crow", by Michelle Alexander is another great read.
Until we are willing and able to acknowledge our blind spots, privilege that comes with the whiteness of our skin, and the reality of systemic racism, we cannot begin to help address the issues people of color in our country face. It's not an easy pill to swallow but imagine how people of color feel. White folks trying to "help" by whitesplaining how and why a movement that does not belong to us is harming people of color only does further harm. I hope you consider this the next time you choose to spend your time "researching" these topics."
I think what I wrote to her in response still captures my thoughts on the subject, so I copy it here in full:
I'm not white.
And, as a member of an ethnic minority that has suffered centuries of brutal, lethal, and unrelenting oppression at the hands of white people, it is upsetting for a white person to (1) assume and assign my racial identity without knowing anything about me, (2) declare that that racial identity should determine what is permissible for me to discuss, and (3) condemn me for transgressing her rules for what various racial groups are allowed to discuss.
I never claimed to be speaking for all non-white people, as you accuse me of. All I ever claimed to be doing is raising awareness of what the best research coming from the most respected institutions in our country shows about (1) the false claims of the BLM movement, and (2) the devastation those claims are inflicting on disadvantaged black communities.
It disappoints me that in your mind it is appropriate to (falsely) assign a racial identity to someone and then declare that he is not allowed to speak about certain topics because of the racial identity that you falsely assigned to him. I can think of nothing that fits the definition of racism better than your comment.
Further, you should be aware that there are many black people who do not support the Black Lives Matter movement, and, as I discussed in my post, a significant number of black scholars who believe that the movement is doing horrific damage to disadvantaged black communities. By forbidding discussion of the evidence about the actual effects of the Black Lives Matter movement on the basis that the movement speaks for all blacks, you are treating the black community as a monolith, and assuming you understand what black people think and feel based on the color of their skin.
Please reflect on your participation in this discussion.
I was dismayed to find that her comment got 5 “likes” from other Thomson Reuters employees who thought it was appropriate to (1) assume and assign my racial identity without knowing anything about me, (2) declare that that racial identity should determine what is permissible for me to discuss, and (3) condemn me for transgressing their rules for what various racial groups are allowed to discuss.
Given the intense, racist, and bizarre nature of the abuse directed at me by these BLM supporters, I believe that their intent was to bully me into silence and prevent any kind of rational and constructive dialogue from ensuing. It’s important to mention here that amid this barrage of racist and abusive attacks, there were some BLM supporters (or people who were at least sympathetic to BLM), that posted insightful and important responses to my post, including citations and careful examination of the ideas and studies, and, I believe, a fruitful dialogue may have emerged were it not for those attempting to bully me into silence.
Unfortunately, the bullies won. I soon received a phone call from <<name redacted>> in HR where she explained to me that my post was being permanently removed from the Hub as a result of the unprofessional and abusive comments it was attracting.
In other words, because Black Lives Matter supporters at Thomson Reuters launched a barrage of racist and abusive attacks on me for criticizing BLM, the company will no longer tolerate any criticism of BLM on the Hub.
This is despite the fact that there are hundreds of posts celebrating BLM on the Hub, including an official Thomson Reuters event series with BLM activists. As it now stands, Thomson Reuters's policy seems to be that only celebrations, and no criticism, of BLM will be permitted.
Were it not for the fact that the best scholarly research, from the most respected research institutions in the country, shows that BLM spreads falsehoods that have led to the murders of thousands of black people in the most disadvantaged communities, this might be a more understandable position for Thomson Reuters to take.
However, given the evidence of how destructive BLM has been, it is very disturbing that our company's response to employees launching racist attacks on anyone who criticizes BLM is to silence all criticism of BLM, even while simultaneously running official Thomson Reuters programs that inject pro-BLM political propaganda into the workplace. BLM supporters have successfully used racist and abusive attacks to silence alternative perspectives, end constructive dialogue and achieve complete victory.
The picture is not entirely negative though. Based on the unsolicited emails of support that I have received in the aftermath of all this, I believe that there are many people at Thomson Reuters who feel similarly to me, but who may be reluctant to speak up because of their well-founded concern about the impact it might have on their careers. For instance, one person wrote:
I appreciate the amount of research and effort that must have gone into your BLM post. It was well researched, written and most importantly, convincing. I think the most interesting part is that the entire post is driven by data! Well, done. ...
Typically, when I see discussion on such sensitive topics there really isn't much informed thought on either side, and I found your post to be quite the opposite.
I know it must have taken a lot courage to put these ideas out into an society that has become increasingly hostile to thoughts that do not align with the common narrative. I think the evidence of that hostility is pretty clear in the comments section of your post. But, as I mentioned above it is uninformed protest.
Another person wrote:
I was following your blog posts on various social topics and am dismayed they have been pulled down. I also read your most recent one on your experience and backlash from these posts before it was promptly taken down. Your position, questions, and information presented are clearly well thought out, thoroughly researched, and presented in a way to engage others and not to enrage them. I agree there has been dearth of discussions within TR talking about both sides of these sensitive issues and was gratified to see your speak up on this.
It’s unfortunate that at a company like TR that is information based and driven that we can’t have civil discussions on relevant topics and instead are relegated to being spoon-fed a narrative that is false, dangerous, and divisive.
Thanks again for being willing to speak up and risk all that you did to get a conversation started.
And another wrote:
It made my heart heavy to see how your reasoned opinion was pounced upon and you personally were attacked for it, although I was not surprised. I agree that people may be well-intentioned in their support for BLM, but it is truly sad and ironic that with such a focus on diversity and inclusion, there is little or no tolerance for a different viewpoint than theirs.
One simply said:
Thank you for this!
My name is <<name redacted>> ...
I support your ability to share data and share the conclusions you drew from it, dissenting or not to the viewpoints already shared/permitted by TR. I thought your post was thought-provoking and was impressed by some comments and disappointed by others. I’m guessing you felt the same.
For those that did not contribute thoughtful/meaningful counterpoints or wish to engage in a civil dialogue, I’m sorry those comments were directed at you. I feel like I need to apologize on others’ behalf (although I know it’s not my place and I’m sure it would make some of the commenters really mad at me to apologize for them!). I’ve worked at TR coming up <<redacted>> years and expected better than many of these comments, and you deserved better. We should always be interested to hear all sides of an issue to come as close as we can to truth on which to base decisions, especially for such important topics and it would’ve been nice if the discussion would’ve continued.
Anyway, I applaud you for your courage to speak your position. I hope the not-so-civil comments don’t reflect the professionalism of our company as a whole and I hope you are able to not take them personally, although I can imagine that may be difficult.
I continue to believe that the vast majority of people at Thomson Reuters are both committed to a society without racism, and willing to engage in the difficult process of self-examination and constructive dialogue that achieving that objective will require.
I believe Thomson Reuters can do better. I hope that we do.
[Please find attached the original Hub post which precipitated the racist and abusive attacks described above. You can also request a copy of that original hub post at this email address, or my personal email address <<email address redacted>>]
Note: I sent this email to a few different groups of colleagues and leadership and made minor corrections and modifications between each sending.