Federal workers ordered to test for ‘unconscious racial bias,’ explore own ‘white privilege’

It must have been a slow year for the U.S. Forest Service as one senior official required his employees to explore their hidden “racial bias” by taking comprehensive online tests.

Forest Management Director Bryan Rice had workers use a psychological research tool to assess their feelings about “everything from race, and sexuality to the disabled and fat people,” the Washington Times reported.

“The intent of using the unconscious bias material is to assist with efforts to foster a work environment where everyone is respected and valued,” Rice wrote in an email to the Times.

“The unconscious bias material can help us explore diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It was included in a discussion of diversity as part of a continuous series of collaborative discussions on a variety of topics we have on my staff that cover key Forest Service policies and values as a means of fostering continued awareness.”

The online tests meant for clinical research are hosted at Implicit.Harvard.edu and the questions get extremely personal.

It asked test takers for a myriad of associations between what feels “good” and “bad” when it comes to politics, sexual orientation, and even if someone “prefers light-skinned people to dark-skinned people,” according to the Washington Times.

In addition to the tests, that Rice doesn’t appear to be qualified to assess or administer, he had his employees read a New York Times op-ed titled, “Straight talk for white men.”

The NY Times piece written by Nicholas Kristof delves deep into the concept of “unconscious bias” and is particularly aimed at “privileged white men.”

At least one astonished senior congressional aide took notice of the intrusive new policy. He voiced concern and questioned why a psychological test about hidden bias has anything to do with fighting forest fires.

“At some point this year, thousands of Americans will have to flee their homes because of catastrophic wildfires caused by poorly managed Forest Service lands,” the aide said.

“And when some of those people return to smoldering piles that were once their homes, they will be comforted that under this administration, the Forest Service has been vigilant in testing against unconscious biases.”

Rice did not disclose any information about the results of the tests, but according to the Times, he hopes to encourage other directors in the agency to follow his lead.

Related: Startling number of journalist believe they’re being spied on by feds


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