Lawmaker demands Johns Hopkins fire official who declared whites, Christians and males 'privileged'

The letter went viral on social media which resulted in Golden retracting it and later issuing an apology.

Published: January 13, 2024 11:26pm

A lawmaker in Congress is demanding that Johns Hopkins Medicine fire a diversity officer after she sent a “monthly diversity digest” email to staff members with an attached letter that claimed all white people, Christians and men are “privileged.”

Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, the diversity officer, also included “heterosexuals” and English speakers in a "privileged" category, according to the New York Post. She eventually apologized.

“Privilege is characteristically invisible to people who have it," she wrote in the letter, according to the outlet. "People in dominant groups often believe they have earned the privileges they enjoy or that everyone could have access to these privileges if only they worked to earn them."

Others in the "privileged" category included "middle-aged people" and "middle or owning class" people. 

The letter went viral on social media, resulting in Golden retracting it on Thursday and later issuing an apology.

"The newsletter included a definition of the word ‘privilege’ which, upon reflection, I deeply regret," Golden's apology read, according to Fox News. "The intent of the newsletter is to inform and support an inclusive community at Hopkins, but the language of this definition clearly did not meet that goal. In fact, because it was overly simplistic and poorly worded, it had the opposite effect of being exclusionary and hurtful to members of our community."

She added she will "ensure that future messages better reflect our organizational values." 

The letter was blasted by prominent figures and politicians, including Tesla and X CEO Elon Musk. 

"This must end!" Musk wrote on X in response to the letter.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., called Golden's statement a "blatant discriminatory sentiment."

“This kind of woke discrimination has no place in modern healthcare and science,” Harris said in a statement to Just the News. “In light of this diversity memo, patients who consider Johns Hopkins for their healthcare should think twice if they belong in one of the listed categories about whether or not they will receive appropriate care or be treated as second class individuals at Hopkins.

"This blatant discriminatory sentiment is contrary to all the principles held dear in America, and certainly not expected from an institution that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the federal government – including dollars to fund that office of Chief Diversity Officer. The only appropriate action on the part of Johns Hopkins Medicine is to fire that individual immediately," he added. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine confirmed the accuracy of Golden's email and apology in a statement to the Deseret News.

"The January edition of the monthly newsletter from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity used language that contradicts the values of Johns Hopkins as an institution," a spokesperson told the outlet. "Dr. Sherita Golden, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Chief Diversity Officer, has sincerely acknowledged this mistake and retracted the language used in the message."

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