In an effort to further embed Critical Race Theory and controversial diversity, equity and inclusion policies throughout the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks campus, the school has appointed a radical, hard-left activist to serve as its new “Chief Diversity Faculty Fellow.”
On Jan. 10, UAF announced that Retchenda George Bettisworth had been tapped for the role with the specific duty “to advise Chancellor Daniel White on UAF’s strategic goal to promote a culture of diversity, inclusion, respect and caring,” while focusing “on collaboration, training, advocacy and policy development.”
The two-year appointment comes with the opportunity for UAF to extend the contract even further.
For more than 20 years, George Bettisworth has dedicated her professional career to pushing highly divisive notions surrounding diversity, equity, inclusion, along with relentlessly promoting critical race theory ideology in the academic setting.
“[C]hange comes from recognizing racism, power, and privilege within ourselves and our environment,” she argues. “This relationship between person and environment is one of the main reasons CRT is especially relevant to cultural competency practice in social work education.”– From Retchenda George Bettisworth’s doctoral dissertation
Apart from working as a social worker for two decades, she has served on a long list of University of Alaska committees focused on DEI activism and “decolonizing” the university system.
These committees include the DEIA Climate Survey Planning Committee and Co-PI for DEIA Climate Survey; Decolonizing Pedagogy Steering Committee; SP-IE Curricular Responsiveness-DEI committee; and the UA Foundation Meaningful DEI Working Group. She has also served on national groups focused on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, to include Critical Race Scholars in Social Work; and as a member of the Council on Social Work Education’s Council on Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Diversity.
In working on her Doctorate in Social Work from St. Catherine University-University of St. Thomas, she wrote a 2017 dissertation which emphasized the need for universities to fully adopt and promote critical race theory in curriculum so as to enlist, inspire and empower graduates to be social activists who are willing and able to fight against so-called social ills such as subconscious racism, white privilege, colonialism and more.
George Bettisworth fully admits that her entire dissertation was founded on a full embrace of Critical Race Theory, and the belief that promotion of diversity in the academic setting includes actively affirming gender confusion, myriad sexual orientations and identities and the promotion of racial and class identities.
“Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the guiding framework for this banded dissertation,” George Bettisworth unapologetically acknowledges at the outset of her work. “Current social work literature has already identified Critical Race Theory as an appropriate framework for teaching cultural competence (Abrams & Moio, 2009), a multicultural approach (Constance-Huggins, 2012), and diversity (Ortiz & Jani, 2010). CRT is an appropriate framework for teaching about culture and diversity due to its major assumptions, key concepts, and propositions.”
She then goes on to explain that the three major assumptions of CRT are “(1) endemic racism, (2) race as a social construct, and (3) differential racialization.”
George Bettisworth’s dissertation uses a definition of “endemic racism” that describes the concept as “the idea that racism is normal and thus so deeply ingrained in our social systems and practices that we are unaware of how it impacts our way of thinking, often making it invisible.”
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She also quotes other writers who claim that race is nothing more than a “social construct … designed to categorize people by observable physical traits and has no genetic or biological basis.”
George Bettisworth goes on to promote CRT concepts such as “power, privilege, institutional racism, oppression, and racism,” claiming that these ideas are used by “the dominant group” to inflict institutional racism, racial oppression and engrained, inherently racist “macro level systems.”
“[C]hange comes from recognizing racism, power, and privilege within ourselves and our environment,” she argues. “This relationship between person and environment is one of the main reasons CRT is especially relevant to cultural competency practice in social work education.”
George Bettisworth’s dissertation claims it is critical for university social work programs to saturate the undergraduate curriculum with these notions in order to create graduates that can transform Alaska’s rural and remote communities, state agencies and child welfare systems. She describes such graduates as “the line-workers, the ones with the boots on the ground.”
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