Disney asks employees to fill out ‘privilege checklist’ as part of inclusion programme, leaked documents show

Employees purportedly asked to ‘take ownership’ of educating themselves on structural racism

Louise Hall
Sunday 09 May 2021 11:01 BST
Disneyland Snow White ride criticised for kissing without consent
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The Walt Disney Corporation has asked employees to complete a “privilege checklist” as part of a new diversity and inclusion programme to combat “systemic racism”, a report has claimed.

According to leaked documents reported by City Journal, the checklist comes as part of a new anti-racism discussion guide called “Reimagine Tomorrow”.

Christopher F Rufo, who leaked the documents on Twitter, said the programme includes training on “systemic racism,” “white privilege”, “white fragility”, “white saviours”, and “microaggressions”.

One screengrab of a document states that the killings of Black Americans such as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and “countless others” are “part of a long history of systemic racism and transphobia”.

“The current unrest represents a tipping point and heightened awareness of the movement,” one document apparently reads.

The materials reportedly ask white colleagues to “take ownership” of educating themselves on racial equality without asking Black colleagues to be responsible for having to “educate them”.

Another page purportedly asks people to “reflect on the diversity” of their personal and professional networks and advises them not to “question or debate Black colleagues’ lived experience”.

One document shared by Mr Rufo asks workers to consider how privileged they are by completing a checklist titled: “How privileged are you?”

The checklist includes items such as having ever been the target of a racial slur, being ostracised for your religion or sexual orientation, or having ever been sexually harassed.

Another document illustrates how participants can “pivot” away from “White Dominant” culture towards “something different”.

Disney also reportedly recommends a guide titled “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice” with links to free resources such as articles and podcasts.

In a statement, a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said: “These internal documents are being deliberately distorted as reflective of company policy, when in fact their purpose was to allow diversity of thought and discussion on the incredibly complex and challenging issues of race and discrimination that we as a society and companies nationwide are facing.”

They added: “The Disney brand has a long history of inclusivity, with stories that reflect acceptance and tolerance and celebrate people’s differences, as we have consistently demonstrated in such popular films as Moana, Coco, Black Panther, Soul and Raya and the Last Dragon, and as a global entertainment company we are committed to continuing to tell stories that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience.”

The multinational company has made a shift towards inclusivity through changes to its attractions and other aspects of the company’s processes following historical civil unrest across the US in the last year.

The company has announced alterations to a number of ride scenes that have long been considered offensive, most recently in adaptations to its Jungle Cruise ride at theme parks in Florida and California.

The company declared it would be removing "negative depictions" of indigenous peoples following long-standing accusations of racism.

Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Also announced in a blog post in April that their employees would be allowed greater “flexibility with respect to forms of personal expression”.

The post said cast members could use “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewellery, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos” to “better express their cultures and individuality”.

The moves by Disney have often been met with backlash from conservative audiences, who accuse the theme park of becoming too “woke”.

Last month, a Disney fan from Las Vegas, Nevada, created a stir on social media after writing an op-ed in The Orlando Sentinel saying: “Immersion should not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and appeasing the Twitter mob.”

Mr D’Amaro insisted the company wants guests “to see their own backgrounds and traditions reflected in the stories, experiences and products they encounter in their interactions with Disney.”

He added in the blog post: “And we want our cast members – and future cast members – to feel a sense of belonging at work.”

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