The Walt Disney Corporation famously bills its amusement parks as “the happiest place on Earth,” but inside the company’s headquarters in Burbank, California, a conflict is brewing.
In the past year, Disney executives have elevated the ideology of critical race theory into a new corporate dogma, bombarded employees with trainings on “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” “white fragility,” and “white saviors,” and launched racially segregated “affinity groups” at the company’s headquarters.
I have obtained a trove of whistleblower documents related to Disney’s “diversity and inclusion” program, called “Reimagine Tomorrow,” which paints a disturbing picture of the company’s embrace of racial politics. Multiple Disney employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals, told me that the Reimagine Tomorrow program, though perhaps noble in intent, has become deeply politicized and engulfed parts of the company in racial conflict.
The core of Disney’s racial program is a series of training modules on “antiracism.” In one, called “Allyship for Race Consciousness,” the company tells employees that they must “take ownership of educating [themselves] about structural anti-Black racism” and that they should “not rely on [their] Black colleagues to educate [them],” because it is “emotionally taxing.” The United States, the document claims, has a “long history of systemic racism and transphobia,” and white employees, in particular, must “work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness to understand what is beneath them and what needs to be healed.” Disney recommends that employees atone by “challeng[ing] colorblind ideologies and rhetoric” such as “All Lives Matter” and “I don’t see color”; they must “listen with empathy [to] Black colleagues” and must “not question or debate Black colleagues’ lived experience.”