Footage of the United States Department of Agriculture’s compulsory “Cultural Sensitivity Training” program reveals USDA employees being instructed to refer to the Pilgrims as “illegal aliens” and minorities as “emerging majorities” – at “a huge expense” to taxpayers.
The video clips were made public Thursday evening by the conservative government accountability group Judicial Watch, which obtained them through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made on May 18, 2012.
The clips star Samuel Betances – a diversity instructor with Souder, Betances and Associates – who says in the video that he got his diversity training start under former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. In the clips, Betances instructed USDA employees on the proper thinking about diversity and minorities – or, as he called them, “emerging majorities.”
Between requiring the employees to repeat that “every federal agency has discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics, Native American Indians and other groups,” and a long account of his personal history, Betances encouraged the employees to take note because the presentation is “a huge expense.”
“If you take a look at all of you here and you think about your salaries and your benefits and what you have left undone – plus my fee – plus the expense of the team that’s putting the video together, this is a huge expense,” he says in his video.
In another clip, Betances attempted to dispel the stigma of illegal immigrants by calling the Pilgrims illegal aliens.
“I want you to say that America was founded by outsiders – say that – who are today’s insiders, who are very nervous about today’s outsiders,” he said in the clip.
“I want you to say, ‘The Pilgrims were illegal aliens,’” he continued. “Say, ‘The Pilgrims never gave their passports to the Indians.’”
Throughout the session, Betances had the employees shout “Bam!” to reinforce his points.
Betances also explained in another clip Judicial Watch highlighted – from the more than three-and-a-half hour video – that he does not like the word “minorities.”
“By the way, I don’t like the word ‘minorities.’ How about ‘emerging majorities’?” he said.
At times in the video, Betances poked fun at “white males.”
“White males founded the USDA! Say ‘Thank you, white males.’ I know it got stuck, some of you couldn’t get it out,” he said to laughter. “I understand. Let’s try that again. Go ahead.”
“Notice I’m not saying, ‘Thank you for slavery, or sexism, or what happened to the indigenous Native American folks.’ I’m saying thank you for what? I’m saying, ‘Thank you for establishing the agency in which those of us that are not white males seek to play a larger role,’” Betances said in a faux giddy manner, before explaining that unity begins with gratitude, before turning to grievances. “We’ve got grievances!,” he said. “This institution, like all federal institutions, have not been fair.”
The training videos were supposed to be kept secret: Judicial Watch describes an Oct. 10, 2011 email exchange in which USDA Training Administrator Vincent Loran requested the training video from Betances and promised it will never get out.
“It will not be used for or show [sic] in any way shape or form,” Judicial Watch quotes Loran as writing.
“This USDA diversity training video depicts out-of-control political correctness,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Can someone please explain how any of this helps USDA employees to better serve the American taxpayer? This video further confirms that politically correct diversity-training programs are both offensive and a waste of taxpayer money. No wonder it took over half a year to obtain this video from the Obama administration.”
In April 2009, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a memo to all agency employees announcing “a new era of civil rights,” and instructed the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights “to lead a comprehensive program to improve USDA’s record on civil rights and move us into a new era as a model employer and premier service provider,” a USDA press release reads. Part of that “cultural transformation” included instituting civil rights training.
Judicial Watch notes that in 2011 and 2012, USDA paid Betances and his firm nearly $200,000.
Last October, when Judicial Watch first became aware of the training program through a FOIA request, a USDA spokesman told Fox News that the training was meant to increase diversity awareness, and was well-received by the employees.
“USDA offers a number of optional workshops and professional development opportunities in order to help employees better serve our customers,” the statement said. “The Souder Betances & Associates sessions were designed to foster overall diversity awareness – not to focus on any specific minority group – and received positive feedback from employees across the department,” the statement read.