The black director of diversity, equity and inclusion at a California college was fired after she asked for definitions of terms like anti-racism which led to her being branded as a ‘right-wing extremist’ by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza.
Dr. Tabia Lee began working at De Anza College, located just outside of San Jose, in August 2021. Since then, she has objected being forced to join a ‘socialist network’ and had to fight to bring a ‘Jewish inclusion’ event to the school, according Inside Higher Ed.
In addition, Lee said that she earned the ire of the school’s woke student body and management over her refusal to use terms such as ‘Latinx’ and ‘Filipinx’ while also wondering why the letter B in ‘Black’ was being capitalized but not the W in ‘White.’
She argued that the use of gender pronouns was similar to ‘toxic ideologies around race’ and that the constant discussion around the issue was causing discomfort for those ‘who identify as gender fluid or struggle with gender dysphoria.’
Lee, a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a doctorate from the University of California Irvine, was also branded a supporter of white supremacy and accused of ‘whitesplaining’ and ‘white speaking.’
Dr. Tabia Lee began working at De Anza College, located just outside of San Jose, in August 2021
One of those who reviewed Lee’s position at De Anza accused the educator of disrespecting Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza
The official reasons to Lee’s firing saw her accuse of being unable to work with other members of staff, inability to accept constructive criticism. The school’s board wrote in a report that they did not expect that Lee would be able to improve in either of those areas.
De Anza College, the alma mater of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and actress Teri Hatcher, has not made a public comment on Lee’s firing, claiming that internal personnel issues are confidential.
Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, Lee said that she is considering filing a lawsuit against the school and is receiving support from the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism aka FAIR. A group which counts former Fox News host Megyn Kelly among its board members.
A lawyer for the group, Leigh Ann O’Neill, told the website that Lee’s work in fostering open inquiry and diverse viewpoints and discussions was ‘important work.’
‘We are often asked to support lawsuits so if she chooses to pursue legal action, we will be very eager to support her,’ O’Neill said.
Lee said that she received guidance that she was only supposed to support what she calls ‘third-wave anti-racism ideology.’
The educator wrote about that term in a February 28 essay that was published on Substack titled Race Ideology in Practice.
‘It is my hope that this article will help us to better understand and more critically examine the ideologies that are being used to advance racial equity into our schools, organizations, and civic life,’ Lee wrote on her LinkedIn page explaining the essay.
De Anza College, located just outside of San Jose, is the alma mater of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and actress Terri Hatcher
Lee went on to tell Inside Higher Education that among those who sat on a review board for her tenure review was a woman who had asked to become a member of a socialist group and who accused her of disrespecting Alicia Garza.
During that review, Lee said that she encountered ‘some really ugly opposition from third-wave antiracist woke activists who don’t care too much for me because I have not uncritically supported their narratives or ways of knowing/working.’
When talking about her refusal to use terms such as LatinX and FilipinX, Lee said that they did not reflect the ‘working class communities’ where she had worked for decades.
‘I found these terms to be linguistic imperialism and an inappropriate attempt to make beautiful languages conform to English speaking social norms,’ Lee said.
In another incident, Lee said that she railed against the school for acknowledging the wrong Native American tribe as being indigenous De Anza College land.’
That dispute saw her labeled as ‘b****’ and ‘dictatorial.’
A supporter of Lee’s, Sheena Mason, an assistant professor at the Oneonta campus State University of New York and the author of Theory of Racelessness: A Case for Antirace(ism), said that Lee was put in her role to be ‘the token black woman.’
‘So you’re black, so you’re supposed to think one way? How is that not dehumanizing?’
Lee also said that the ‘wokeism’ being promoted by her office slowed down the process of creating a more equal school
Lee also said that the ‘wokeism’ being promoted by her office slowed down the process of creating a more equal school.
She said that the ‘woke’ members of her office were using ‘divisive’ techniques without offering an solutions, merely accusing other members of staff of being ‘racist or not woke enough.’
A month before being terminated by De Anza, Lee resigned her position from the Center Joint School District in Antelope, California, accusing the body of failing to do more to help the most vulnerable students in the district.
In her resignation letter, Lee also accused the board of ignoring Black History Month and accused a board member of making ‘racist and homophobic’ remarks.
During her time on the board, Lee successfully campaigned to remove reciting the Pledge of Allegiance from meeting.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been at the forefront of fighting ‘woke’ ideologies on college campuses across his state.
In February, his administration blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies from being taught in high schools, saying it violates state law and is historically inaccurate.
So far, at least 25 states have considered legislation or other steps to limit how race and racism can be taught, according to an analysis from Education Week.
Eight states, all Republican-led, have banned or limited the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts through laws or administrative actions. The bans largely address what can be taught inside the classroom.