Coca-Cola in the US is accused of reverse racism for telling employees to be 'less white' because it means being 'less oppressive, arrogant and ignorant'

Coca-Cola is under fire for uploading a resource video encouraging employees tobe less white'.  

Slides from the video went viral on social media late last week after they were shared by a 'whistleblower' working for the soft drink giant. 

Many have now accused Coca-Cola of encouraging reverse racism, and are urging employees to file discrimination lawsuits against the company. 

The slides appear to come from an 11-minute video titled 'Confronting Racism with Robin DiAngelo'.  

DiAngelo, a white author and consultant, argues that even well-meaning white people are complicit in racist structures unless they actively work to be 'anti-racist'.  

One of the slides features the title 'Try to Be Less White', before another claims that whiteness is associated with arrogance, defensiveness, ignorance, and a lack of humility. 

Another slide states: 'In the US and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white'.

It continues: 'Research shows that by age 3 to 4, children understand that it is better to be white.' 

DiAngelo is the author of the book 'White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism'. 

'I grew up poor and white. While my class oppression has been relatively visible to me, my race privilege has not,' she says of herself. 

'In my efforts to uncover how race has shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing race in the center of my analysis and asking how each of my other group locations has socialized me to collude with racism.'

Coca-Cola has confirmed that it uploaded the video to their 'LinkedIn Learning platform', but insists it is not a part of the company's compulsory curriculum.  

A spokesperson told The Washington Examiner that the video was accessible to Coca-Cola employees as part of its 'Better Together global training', which is designedto help build an inclusive workplace.'   

'The video in question was accessible on the LinkedIn Learning platform but was not part of the company's curriculum. We will continue to listen to our employees and refine our learning programs as appropriate,' the spokesperson stated. 

The slides were re-tweeted by Harmeet K. Dhillon, a leader of the Republican National Committee in California. 

'This seems like blatant racial discrimination to this employment lawyer,' she stated. 

Another concurred, writing: 'This is a gold mine for any decent civil rights lawyer. Where are the lawsuits??'

A third popular tweet simply stated: 'I always preferred Pepsi'. 

However, some argued that they still supported workplace initiatives to teach employees about diversity and racial sensitivity. 

'I think the word choice is poor, but the concepts will hopefully be enlightening. There are many who do not realize their own racial prejudices, and I'm not kidding,' a proponent tweeted. 

After a whistleblower complained that Coca-Cola was asking its employees to engage in diversity training offered by LinkedIn Education that encouraged them to "try to be less white," the social media firm has removed the program.

"The Confronting Racism course featuring Robin DiAngelo is no longer available in our course library, at the request of the 3rd party content provider we licensed this content from," LinkedIn vice president of corporate communications Nicole Leverich told Newsweek in an email on Monday.

"We provide a wide variety of learning content, including more than 270 courses on the topics of diversity, inclusion, and belonging," Leverich said. "We will continue to add new courses to help people learn the skills they need to be more successful in their career, including the foundational skills we all need to be effective allies and help build a more equitable future."

Coca-Cola has been criticized on social media since Friday when Karlyn Borysenko, who is an organizational psychologist and YouTube commentator, tweeted screenshots of the LinkedIn course.

Borysenko received the tip from whistleblowers at Coca-Cola who said employees were "required" to take the online course, though other companies were similarly asking their staff to engage in the course, as well.

"The real story is that Coca-Cola is one of probably thousands of companies that are having their employees do these courses," Borysenko told Newsweek. "Why did LinkedIn produce content asking people to be less white? Why are they still hosting this? Coca-Cola is a drop in the bucket."

Late Monday, LinkedIn said the course is no longer on its platform. LinkedIn did not say how many companies were using the lesson or how many times the controversial video had been viewed.

In four days, Borysenko's tweet had been viewed by 23 million people while a follow-up YouTube video had more than 100,000 views.

The now-removed Confronting Racism course included a slide that instructed students to be "less white, less arrogant, less certain, less defensive, less ignorant and more humble."

The lesson also informed viewers that "in the U.S. and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white," and it cites vague "research" claiming that children as young as 3 "understand that it is better to be white."

While Coca-Cola told Newsweek that the lesson wasn't mandatory for employees, Borysenko said multiple employees at the company say that it indeed had been—at least until Friday, and at least one employee provided her an email she says backs up the assertion.

"I can understand sometimes there's miscommunication between management and employees ... but the messaging I've seen do use the word 'required.' Everything I've seen says it was part of the coursework, but then it was removed over the weekend once the news broke," Borysenko told Newsweek.

Coca-Cola told Newsweek that the video and images "are not part of the company's learning curriculum." Coca-Cola said it has a "Better Together" training initiative that includes access to the LinkedIn diversity lesson but that it "was not part of the company's curriculum. We will continue to listen to our employees and refine our learning programs as appropriate."

Coca-Cola sign
A Coca-Cola sign hangs over a vending machine at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets shopping mall on November 24, 2020 in Central Valley, New York.GARY HERSHORN/GETTY