Kevin Ray works as a teaching artist for New 42, a publicly-funded performing arts organization in New York City, where he delivers art workshops to students across the city.
Beginning in 2019, the work environment at New 42 became permeated with insults, stereotypes, and discrimination based on skin color, all under the guise of “anti-racism.” The discrimination was pervasive and aggressive, consisting of over seventy emails, countless workplace training sessions, and other incidents. The following are just a few examples:
- Segregating employees by skin color for workplace meetings and diversity training sessions.
- Claiming “placing White folx in interracial dialogue is like placing pre-algebra sudents in a calculus class” and “White people need someting akin to a remedial course.”
- Distributing materials filled with demeaning stereotypes, including that “white” behavior is characterized by “not listening,” “denial,” “defensiveness,” “lack of inquiry,” “either/or binary thinking,” and “not owning one’s white group identity.”
- Accusing the “white group” of “replicat[ing] the worst facets of dominant culture.”
- Claiming that “whiteness…divides each and all of us from the earth, the sun, the wind, the water, the stars, [and] the animals that roam the earth.”
- Berating “white” people for “demanding to be seen as an individual and not as a part of the white group.”
- Beginning meetings with the ritual of having employees state their home address and apologize for living on land stolen from Native Americans.
- Circulating an email demanding that “white” employees pay reparations to a “black” colleague.
BREAKING: We are supporting a new civil rights lawsuit filed today by Kevin Ray against his employer, New 42, alleging violations of his civil rights under federal & New York law. ⬇️https://t.co/dLYWlmzj7t #RAYvNEW42 pic.twitter.com/gqLaG1j5cI— Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) (@fairforall_org) June 9, 2022
On numerous occasions, Mr. Ray asked New 42 to stop these discriminatory acts. Instead of doing so, New 42 refused to give him any further work assignments.
Mr. Ray has now filed suit against New 42 in federal court, alleging violations of his civil rights under federal and New York law.