The Supreme Court is expected this month to make a major ruling on affirmative action. To understand the case, we sat down with Kenny Xu, an insider in the lawsuit and president of Color Us United. He is the author of “An Inconvenient Minority” and the upcoming book “School of Woke.”
We also discuss his recent investigations into the dumbing down of academic standards, the protection of sexual predators if they espouse diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) ideology, and the spread of DEI ideology in medical schools.
“Medical schools across America are basically advocating that you stop abiding by the Hippocratic Oath and that you start administering preferential care,” Xu says.
Jan Jekielek. Kenny Xu, great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Kenny Xu: Thanks for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: Kenny, you’ve played a very significant role in the removal of DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] requirements from the University of North Carolina school system, which actually comprises 17 universities. Please tell me about it.
Mr. Xu: I’m president of Color Us United, and we are a group dedicated to a race-blind, meritocratic America. What the University of North Carolina has been doing, and really medical schools all across the nation, is compromising meritocratic ideals in the name of what they call diversity, equity and inclusion. My organization learned about what the University of North Carolina was doing, requiring diversity, equity and inclusion statements for medical faculty to be promoted.
You had to sign on saying, “I’m going to commit to these woke principles,” if you wanted to be promoted as a doctor. They were also teaching unconscious bias to their medical students. If you’re learning how to be a doctor, you should be learning how to treat people based on biological facts, not based on critical race theory.
Finally, they were doing things like racial preferences in admissions, which I’ve extensively covered in my previous talk with you and in my book, An Inconvenient Minority. They were having racial preferences. If you were a black or Latino medical student, you would have a better chance of getting in than if you’re a white or Asian student. It shouldn’t be about that. Ultimately, it should be about if you are the best qualified doctor.
Color Us United launched a campaign to fight against these diversity standards in medicine. On February 23, 2023, the board of governors voted to ban diversity, equity and inclusion statements from promotion and tenure of faculty. It’s a small win towards our larger goal of having the dean of the medical school renounce DEI entirely, but it’s a welcome one.
Mr. Jekielek: I imagine they didn’t just do this immediately.
Mr. Xu: They didn’t. What happened was there are a group of trustees at the University of North Carolina that are very supportive of our colorblind meritocratic ideals. They have been interested in fighting wokeness within the university. As you can see, it’s encroaching upon territory where it should not, like medical schools and the practice of medicine. If you’re a patient, do you want the most qualified doctor, or do you want a doctor of a certain race? The vast majority of Americans want the most qualified doctor. There is already a lot of concern at the university.
But the dean, Wesley Burks, released a video in 2020 advocating for a plan to integrate social justice into the UNC Medical School curriculum. It was a very scary proposition. That means new doctors are going to be educated according to the tenets of social justice and critical race theory, instead of according to the biological practice of medicine.
We exposed this in outlets across America and generated a lot of attention. We created a petition campaign, which you can still sign at colorusunited.org. On February 23rd, the board of governors took steps to start ridding the university and the medical system of diversity, equity and inclusion principles.
Mr. Jekielek: The bottom line here is that in order to get into medical school and other departments, you actually have to show that you adhere to these principles. How does that work?
Mr. Xu: Even more than that actually. UNC, up until recently, had a list of sample DEI statements that you could write if you want to apply to be a medical faculty or a student. In this DEI statement, you have to basically prove to a committee of highly progressive Leftists that you are sufficiently committed to inclusion. You have to talk about what diversity committees you have been on in college or in the workforce, and what advocacy you have done on the behalf of so-called underrepresented minorities. They get to interrogate you about this.
It has nothing to do with medicine, because these kids and these faculties devote their entire lives to serving everybody, not serving just black people, not serving just Latino or Asian people, but serving all Americans. That is what the Hippocratic Oath is about. Diversity, equity and inclusion is antithetical to the Hippocratic Oath. They were basically advocating, and medical schools across America are basically advocating that you stop abiding by the Hippocratic Oath and that you start administering preferential care.
Mr. Jekielek: Please explain briefly why deciding to care for more people of a particular race would violate the Hippocratic Oath.
Mr. Xu: When you’re a doctor, you have to make a statement that first, you do no harm. You treat everybody with dignity and respect equally. But the new Hippocratic Oath, an oath that was taken by students at the University of Minnesota Medical School, for example, said, “I commit to Black Lives Matter principles. I commit to treating certain groups more preferentially than others.”
In fact, you saw this in the administration of the vaccine. The city of Oakland, during the 2021 rollout of the vaccine said, “We’re going to start administering the vaccine first to underrepresented populations,” and they meant black and Hispanic Americans. It’s a repudiation of, “Let’s treat people according to fair principles, not based on the color of their skin.” Another thing that this is violating is the principle of doctors treating everybody with dignity and respect.
If you start getting educated about white privilege and you’re a doctor and you start getting educated to basically despise white people, just imagine you’re performing a surgery in the operating room 10 years from now when you finally have your own practice. That is going to leak into your thinking for the rest of your life. This is indoctrination.
These days, practicing CRT [Critical Race Theory] and medicine is an alternative way that you can get into the medical community. The big medical journals like Nature and Science, the ones that publish the big pharmaceutical papers, you can get credit and actually get published in those journals by advocating for nothing at all except, “This practice creates certain racial disparities in medicine here, so we need to use a critical race theory analysis.” There are people in our medical system right now who have built their entire careers off of CRT.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating and deeply disturbing. What has been the reaction to this?
Mr. Xu: It has been positive. Patients and doctors have come out in support of this. In fact, we recently had a Cameroon-born doctor named Dr. Nche Zama come to UNC Medical School. He actually trained at Harvard Medical School and knows all the ins and outs of the profession. He came and he railed against DEI. It was just incredible. Certain doctors have started coming out and speaking out for themselves too and speaking out for the entire profession. Because this isn’t just about themselves, this is about the future of medical care, and this is about fairness. The problem that the healthcare industry has right now is access to care.
Access to care is not a racial issue. There are white Americans in rural areas who lack the same access to care as black Americans in urban areas. By the way, the best way to give people the best access to care is to produce the most competent doctors. That’s how you get the best access to care.
You need to be transparent and show patients your patient outcome data. That is something the healthcare industry has been very reluctant to do. Do you want to restore trust in the healthcare system? It’s not about black doctors or white doctors. Black patients don’t care, and white patients don’t care. It’s not about race, it’s about quality.
Mr. Jekielek: You can also imagine in society where these DEI and CRT principles are being promulgated where people might be afraid to go to a doctor of a particular race, if it’s different from theirs. What a terrible thing we’re doing with this.
Mr. Xu: We’re doing a terrible thing to incoming black doctors for sure. By embedding racial preferences in admissions, by making this about social justice and race, we are actually priming the public to distrust black doctors in the future. That is very sad because I know some of the highest quality black doctors in the nation, like Dr. Nche Zama and Dr. Ben Carson. Some of the most highly trained and highly skilled doctors in America are black, but they are lumped in with people who definitely got into medical school because of racial preferences. That is unfair to them.
Mr. Jekielek: I was even thinking in the opposite direction where someone who’s black might have been taught that whites are out to get them, so they wouldn’t go to a white doctor.
Mr. Xu: Yes, that’s also a good point. That’s also a good point. What the CRT folks like to say in response to my argument is that black patients are literally being killed by white doctors. They’ll point to studies that say a white doctor who administers care to a black newborn has a three times higher likelihood of mortality, than a black patient being administered care from a black doctor.
That is a study that was retweeted by CNN. They focused on that study on TV. You can go to the methodology of that study and see that it is all wrong. It’s a bad methodology and those are studies that should not be used. There’s another study that I want to mention. They claim that white doctors are more likely to leave black patients in pain in diabetic insulin treatments.
When you’re diabetic, you need insulin and white doctors are less likely to prescribe this less painful insulin treatment than black doctors. But they forget a lot of confounding factors. When doctors are evaluating whether to prescribe something to a patient, they’re evaluating on a number of reasons and a number of things. One of those is their concern about the patient’s ability to consistently do the treatment by themselves.
When they’re not certain of that, then prescribing that treatment actually harms the patient more because if the patient is not doing it, then they have to pay for this treatment that they’re not consistently administering themselves. Yes, the doctors are making a judgment, but this judgment is not racist. It is based on the patient’s needs and it should not be ascribed to racism.
Mr. Jekielek: What do the students at the school think about this?
Mr. Xu: Right now, we’re in the process of making students more aware. A lot of the students are already aware about what’s going on, but they are afraid to speak out. I spoke with a physical therapy student who talked about a medical school professor coming in and saying, “We need to be concerned about access to healthcare. You need to take this implicit bias test.”
He took a thing called an implicit bias test [IAT], which is a now discredited model of trying to determine whether you’re secretly a racist. They made him take this test, so he took it. He had to take a credit hour of a class that investigated racial disparities in healthcare and queer disparities in healthcare. It was told from the lens of critical race theory and queer theory. The students are definitely aware that these DEI programs are going on, but they’re yet unaware about how fully it is infiltrated into the medical profession, and also how much they’re going to be judged by these things later on in their career.
I’m in the process of talking to students right now. I’m literally out on the street at the medical school talking to these students. I’m talking to the students, “Hey, did you know that these principles that you’re learning are actually going to affect your career? They’re going to affect your eligibility for fellowships. Right now, UNC is offering a black-only fellowship for neurosurgery. It’s only available to black applicants.”
“It’s going to affect your ability to get fellowships and residencies. It’s going to affect how patients treat you, and it’s going to affect how hospital administrators treat you. If the Biden agenda is allowed to continue, the equity agenda, which is of course about race, it’s going to affect the grant money that you’re going to get in the future. We have to put a stop to this.”
Mr. Jekielek: You have another case that you’ve been involved with, the Harvard Discrimination Against Asians case. It’s now at the Supreme Court. Where are things at with respect to that?
Mr. Xu: That’s a great question. The Supreme Court justices are going to decide on the Harvard case most likely in June. I do expect that Students For Fair Admissions, which is the organization that I’m on the board of, will win.
Mr. Jekielek: Please explain to me what the case is, and then how far it’s come. What are the strongest arguments that you’ve presented?
Mr. Xu: In 2014, a group called Students For Fair Admissions sued Harvard for discrimination against Asians. People said, “Why would they do that?” The reason why they do that is because Harvard has this diversity rationale, a DEI rationale. They say they need more diverse applicants, and they just happen to label Asians as not diverse. We know what they mean by diverse student body, they want more black and Hispanic students. They don’t want more Asian students.
Mr. Jekielek: The Asians perform too well.
Mr. Xu: Yes. What we learned in the process of the discovery of the case is that an Asian in the highest 10 percent of all Harvard admissions academically has a lower chance to get in than a black person in the fourth-lowest decile of admissions at Harvard. There are standards. An Asian has to score about 273 points higher on the SAT to have the same chance of admission as a black person, and about 120 points higher to have the same chance of admission as a white person. That’s based on the discovery data that we learned. There are different standards. It is discrimination.
Mr. Jekielek: What is the judge saying?
Mr. Xu: In 2019, Harvard presents this competing case. Their case is that Asians are not discriminated against if you include a thing called a personality score. When you apply to Harvard, you’re judged on three things, academics, extracurriculars and a personality score. Asians score the highest in academics, highest in extracurriculars, and then, they score the lowest out of all of the races on the personality score.
This was used as evidence in the trial that Harvard wasn’t discriminating. But what Students For Fair Admissions, my organization, has been arguing and I think successfully, is that the personality score is just a proxy for Harvard’s discrimination. They will look at an essay written by a guy with the last name Wong or Xu and they will say, “This student is good, but he’s not amazing.”
They will look at a student whose last name is Hernandez and they would say, “This student is amazing, we have to take him.” We actually had an economist break down the applications, application by application. The economist, Peter Arcidiacono, says after reading those applications, he sees the unfair standards that were given. He could read the exact same application. The only thing changed is a person’s name and race. Harvard would label one standard strong, which is SS, which means good but not good enough, and they would label the other, “This is amazing, we have to take him.”
Mr. Jekielek: With the only other determinant being race, presumably.
Mr. Xu: What would a Harvard admissions officer grade a personality on? It could be things like maybe a teacher recommendation, alumni recommendation, or the strength of your personal essay. But what we found was that the Asians actually score highest on alumni recommendations, they score highest out of all the races on teacher recommendations, and they score second highest out of all the races on counselor recommendations. There’s no objective metric that you can link to the personality score except for race.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating, and again, disturbing. Are you confident you’re going to win this one?
Mr. Xu: You can never be too confident. But even a swing Justice, Chief Justice John Roberts, who defended Obamacare, has made public his disdain for affirmative action. He said in a 2005 decision when he was a dissenter, “The only way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.”
In 2014, we had a similar affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas, that we thought was going to go our way too, but ended up going the other way. But here we’re even more confident. Ketanji Brown Jackson actually recused herself, because she was on the Harvard Board of Overseers, and she’s most likely to be sympathetic to Harvard’s viewpoint. That was a question asked during her Supreme Court hearing and she did say, “I will recuse myself,” and she did recuse herself.
Mr. Jekielek: Before we talk about your book, School of Woke, I’ve just been reading James Lindsay’s new book, The Marxification of Education. It’s helping me understand a lot of what’s happened in the academy. Before we go there, I want to talk about the academic scandal at Thomas Jefferson High School, which of course you know a lot about.
Mr. Xu: I wrote the first chapter of my previous book, An Inconvenient Minority, all about Thomas Jefferson High School. What I discovered at Thomas Jefferson High School was that the school board is controlled by woke progressives. Thomas Jefferson High School is the number one math and science high school in the nation. Recently, the school has become about 70 percent Asian. It used to be 70 percent white, and now it’s 70 percent Asian. Why?
Because the Asians were studying harder. They were getting the top math scores in the nation. Therefore, they were going to Thomas Jefferson. The progressive school board got mad about that. What happened? The George Floyd incident happened and they brought in the critical race theorist, Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be Antiracist, to speak about how standardized tests are racist. They got rid of that whole admissions process. They made it into a holistic lottery admissions process, which they are now being sued for. There’s actually a lawsuit against that right now.
Even more recently, because of this admissions process, they started admitting kids who were just not qualified. This is the number one math and science high school, and these kids are going to be nuclear engineers. But if 30 percent of the kids who are admitted are now not qualified, it creates a great imbalance in the school’s makeup. They decided to rectify this imbalance not by rectifying their admissions process, but by withholding awards from the actual high performing students, because they wanted to make the low performing students feel better. That’s what happened at Thomas Jefferson School.
It is a consequence of the racial preferences that they were already doing. They admitted lower qualified students, and now, because they admitted lower qualified students, they wanted to make these students feel better. They stopped doing the awards for the higher qualified students, who by the way, were almost entirely Asian. They were withholding these National Merit Scholarship Awards from well-qualified Asians who could have used those scholarship awards to apply for colleges, for the sake of appeasing the feelings of those at the lower end of the spectrum.
Mr. Jekielek: What is the substance of this lawsuit?
Mr. Xu: The substance of the lawsuit at Thomas Jefferson High School, from my understanding, is that you are penalizing Asian students. It’s the same script and it’s the same lawsuit as what Students For Fair Admissions filed against Harvard. It’s true. You are penalizing Asian students for being Asian. Let me share a statistic with your viewers. The average Asian American studies 13 hours a week. The average white person studies eight hours a week. The average black person studies five hours a week. I’m talking about kids in K-12.
Why are there disparities in educational achievement? It’s not because of racism, it’s because of study habits. It’s because of family structure. It’s because Asian Americans have the highest rate of two-parent families, the lowest rates of drug use, and the lowest rates of crime in the country. It’s about culture.
If you’re really going to fix the problems in these school systems, if you’re really going to fix the fact that Thomas Jefferson only had 1 percent or lower of their students that are black, which I also lament, but if you’re really going to fix that problem, racial quotas are not the way to fix the problem. You have to go into the K-12 middle schools and elementary schools, diagnose the discipline issues that are going there, diagnose the study habit issues going on there, and diagnose the single parenthood issues, meaning that you can’t read to your kid, and you’re too caught up with work to do these things. I’m very sympathetic to these mothers who are in those situations, but those are leading to these problems.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me about your book and when is it coming out?
Mr. Xu: My new book is called, School of Woke. It’s coming out on August 1st this year. My motivation for writing this book was as I was investigating racial preferences, I became very concerned with the racial achievement gap in our country, because there is a racial achievement gap in our country. I guarantee it. People always talk about how America is not an educated country, because our PISA scores, an international performance score, are lower compared to European nations.
The sad part that they’ll never tell you is that if you break it down by race, the Asian PISA scores are basically on par with Singapore and some of the best educated countries in the nation. The white PISA scores are also very good, they’re equivalent to some of the Scandinavian countries. But the black PISA scores are terrible. They’re just terrible. The racial achievement gap hasn’t closed, and it hasn’t closed over the past 30 years.
By the way, we’ve spent three times as much money on public education in those past 30 years, adjusted for inflation. What have we been spending it on? The answer is, as a result of my investigation in School of Woke, we’ve been spending it on internalizing critical race theory principles in our school system. We’ve been spending it on teaching black kids that society is against them. We’ve been spending them on new diversity, equity and inclusion administrators to teach queer theory and relationship-oriented pedagogy to teachers so that they can continue to derail these students. They are not pushing them in math or pushing them in science, but instead pushing a false racist narrative on them.
It just sickens me, and it’s a heartbreaking investigation. I went into two major school districts, Loudoun County Public Schools and Santa Barbara Public Schools in California. I found that what they’re teaching in these public schools that they get so much funding for fundamentally doesn’t teach them things, it’s anti-learning.
At Santa Barbara High School, if you check, born in Mexico, and you have an immigrant parent, a lot of these parents are illegal immigrants, if you check, born in Mexico, they put your kid through a so-called bilingual program where you’re not actually learning English anymore. They teach you 10 percent English, and 90 percent in Spanish.
They do this in the name of diversity and equity. “We want to make sure all our cultures are represented. We want to teach Spanish to people. Oh, Spanish, it’s great.” But they’re dooming these kids to not being able to learn English for the rest of their lives, because they want to facilitate a critical race theory narrative of multiculturalism.
Mr. Jekielek: Explain to me how it’s anti-education.
Mr. Xu: Think about the traditional model of education. The traditional model of education is that taxpayer dollars pay for schools who educate your children who later become taxpayers. It’s a beneficial cycle. Now, invert that model. The model is changing. Your taxpayer dollars are going into the school system, and the school system has become a massive bureaucracy whose purpose is to benefit the bureaucracy.
They are now paying diversity administrators and human resource counselors. They’re paying superintendents massive salaries. They’re paying businesses. I talk about one of these businesses, Panorama Education, which is the brainchild of Merrick Garland’s son-in-law, a student surveying platform. He got paid millions of dollars to work with Fairfax and Loudoun County Public Schools to survey their children on critical race theory.
They’re paying these businesses and they’re creating a new fiefdom, a new little kingdom of wokeness. The new principles that they’re teaching within this kingdom is justifying this kingdom. Let me tell you about what’s happening in our education schools. They’re teaching new teachers that the primary purpose of being a teacher is to build a, “Relationship,” with your student.
It’s not to teach them math. It’s not to build their cognitive abilities. It’s not to help them become a better social person. It’s to build a personal relationship with this student. In fact, Jamie Almanzan, from the equity collaborative, he was one of the coordinators at Loudoun County Public Schools, preached to teachers that the internet teaches information better than these teachers ever could.
What does this relationship pedagogy mean? It means that these teachers are trying to be your friends. They’re trying to help you with your social problems, including by the way whether you’re gay or not, and whether you should come out in school at the age of 9 or 10. These teachers are taught to be a supportive friend, which justifies the entire DEI bureaucracy. That means that we need more guidance counselors, because these kids are so mentally anxious. That means we need more tech consultants, because we need to survey these kids and all of their real problems. They generate a list of problems including their so-called racial oppression to justify the new K-12 education bureaucracy.
Mr. Jekielek: Kenny, what is the most egregious example of the application of DEI or CRT principles in the education system that you’re aware of?
Mr. Xu: It is the protection of predators, so long as they espouse DEI and CRT principles. In Santa Barbara, in one of the investigations that I did, and this is so sad, there was a world history teacher who was an avowed Marxist, who also preyed on his students. I had an interview with one of these students. She told me about how the school system protected this man because this man was instrumental in Santa Barbara’s progressive CRT agenda.
He would attend all of the seminars and all of the parties with the liberal funders. He would get grant money for ethnic studies in Santa Barbara, which is CRT ideology, it’s a CRT history class. He was a black man in a town that is 1 percent black. He was the shining living hope of everything that progressives and Leftists wanted. There was only one problem, he was a predator. This is not just theory, this really motivates people with a religious conviction almost where they will protect their own if their own make CRT a priority in the school system.
Mr. Jekielek: Even to that extent, it’s unbelievable.
Mr. Xu: The nonprofits that protected this man are even more unbelievable. One of the things I talk about is social emotional learning, it’s a principle that says that students need to learn how to be better behaved. We want to prevent teen suicides. Okay, it’s a very nice sounding principle. But there are nonprofits in Santa Barbara and schools across the nation that claim to use the social emotional learning model. What they’re really doing is getting these students to touch each other, they’re getting these students to be emotionally vulnerable to grown adults in ways that are inappropriate, and they protect these predators.
One of the nonprofits really protected this man who assaulted this young lady. It is horrible. By the way, this nonprofit was funded by the Santa Barbara Public School system, which goes into my larger point. The school system’s money is now being redirected away from genuinely teaching the students into helping the growing industry of CRT and DEI bureaucracy that is impacting our nation negatively.
Mr. Jekielek: Everything you’re telling me very much comports with what James Lindsay has found. When bureaucracies grow and become entrenched, it can be very hard to free institutions from them. I’m sure you’ve thought about this.
Mr. Xu: James and I have actually talked and my interview with him is in the book, School of Woke. He says that the best way to fight this monkey is to shine the light on it. When you shine the light, the cockroaches flee. I have to disagree with James slightly. It may take out the worst 20 percent of actors, but this entire system is deeply entrenched. They will come back with a new acronym. If it’s not CRT, if it’s not DEI, it will be something else.