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EXCLUSIVE — Outspoken critics of critical race theory and “woke” corporations have teamed up to launch a new campaign designed to get credit card giant American Express to stop “racially divisive policies” that they feel are infiltrating many of the nation’s most prestigious companies.
“American Express has all of these racially divisive policies, well, that sounds pretty un-American. In fact, they don’t deserve the name upon which their card is printed. So we’ve decided that we are going to start a new campaign called the UnAmerican Express campaign,” Color Us United president and author Kenny Xu told Fox News Digital.
“Color Us United is an organization dedicated to the idea that Americas just want race out of their personal and professional lives, you know, we want a colorblind America,” Xu said, quoting Martin Luther King’s famous statement that someone’s character should be more important than their skin color.
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Author Kenny Xu is the president of the nonprofit organization Color Us Blind, an organization “created to speak out against those who want to divide America.”
Last year, the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo began a series of investigative reporting on critical race theory at America’s most prominent companies.
“What I’ve discovered is that about a third of the Fortune 100 companies that I can verify are promoting the principles of CRT, including systemic racism, White privilege, this idea that whiteness is synonymous with evil, exploitation and oppression. And one of the companies that actually was the one of the worst offenders was American Express,” Rufo told Fox News Digital.
“American Express is teaching its employees that the country was fundamentally racist, that capitalism was fundamentally oppressive and that their White employees were guilty of White privilege and internalized White supremacy. All of these horrific crimes based solely on their skin color,” Rufo added.
American Express did not respond to a series of questions, including whether principles of critic race theory are promoted internally.
Xu, the author of “An Inconvenient Minority,” and Rufo joined forces to help prevent what they call the infiltration of woke ideology into America’s companies by putting “countervailing pressure” on executives who make the decisions.
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“We saw Rufo’s reporting on American Express and the fact that they were conducting critical race training where they were telling their members that capitalism is racist, and they were arranging their members on a privilege hierarchy based on race,” Xu said. “So we contacted Rufo.”
Last year, Christopher Rufo began a series of investigative reporting on critical race theory at America’s most prominent companies. (Courtesy Christopher Rufo)
Rufo shared some sources with Color Us United, and the group did its own research with additional sources inside the credit card giant.
“We discovered all of the things that were going on at American Express that he reported was true, and they’re worse than ever,” Xu said. “American Express is the tip of the iceberg in terms of corporate wokeness.”
Color Us United said it found that American Express “has been engaging in activities that undermine American excellence, spark racial division rough racial preferences, and overtly politicize the workplace,” citing “testimony and private documents” as proof. A former employee named Brian Netzel filed a complaint, alleging he was fired in conjunction with the company’s efforts to emphasize the racial makeup of its staff. American Express CEO Steve Squeri put “race at the forefront of many major company policies,” according to Netzel.
“American Express is definitely not on an island, they are just one of the many, almost all of the Fortune 500 companies right now are engaging in some form of corporate wokeness … but American Express has taken it that step further that I think is the direction that other companies are going to go if we don’t stop this,” Xu said.
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Color Us United also alleges American Express has awarded bonuses to managers who practice “equity,” which Xu has a particular issue with since he feels the American workforce should be based on merit.
“They’re giving bonuses to hiring managers who hire more Blacks and fire White Americans,” he said. “You get a financial incentive to be racist.”
According to internal documents reviewed by Rufo, a senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute, and first reported in The New York Post, American Express executives created an internal “Anti-Racism Initiative” after the death of George Floyd, subjecting employees to a training program based on CRT tenets, including intersectionality, which categorizes people as “oppressors” or “oppressed” based on racial, gender, sexual and other identities.
In the trainings, the outside consulting firm Paradigm urged Amex employees to construct their own intersectional identities, mapping their “race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, disability status, age, gender identity [and] citizenship” on an official company worksheet. Employees could then determine whether they have “privilege” or are members of a “marginalized group.” Whites, males, heterosexual people, Christians, able-bodied people and citizens would presumably count as “privileged.”
In another session, consultants instructed employees to change their behavior in the office based on their relative position on the intersectional hierarchy. According to Rufo, the session included “a blue flowchart with specific rules for interacting with black, female and LGBT employees: If members of a subordinate group are present, workers should practice ‘intersectional allyship’ and defer to them before speaking.”
The training sessions also warned White employees to avoid certain phrases as “microaggressions.” Forbidden phrases include: “I don’t see color”; “We are all human beings”; and “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough.”
Xu feels that corporations prioritize wokeness because they have installed diversity, equity and inclusion mangers for the purpose of fomenting a racism narrative. He said former President Obama’s dedication to pushing diversity at the corporate level was the start of the nation-wide issue that exists today and ballooned during the civil rights protests of 2020.
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“That has bureaucratized, and after George Floyd it has metastasized,” Xu said. “Now it is all over these Fortune 500 companies and American Express is particularly egregious.”
Color Us United plans to spend over $500,000 on “spurring Americans to action against corporate wokeness” with American Express being a company of emphasis.
The UnAmerican Express campaign focuses on urging investors of the credit card company to distance itself from Amex until “woke policies” cease to exist. Xu hopes that consumers start using the campaign’s slogan in everyday conversation to help promote awareness.
“We want you to go to the dinner table, say you’re with a guest, and they pull out their American Express card, you say, ‘Hey, that’s a nice UnAmerican Express card you got there,’” Xu said, noting that the cardholder will ask what that means.
“These policies actually inspire more racial resentment inside American Express, and it doesn’t help Black employees. In fact, it hurts them because company employees have reported to me that they’re scared to give negative feedback to their Black employees now because they’re afraid of discrimination complaints,” Xu said.
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Rufo is excited that his partnership with Color Us United allows his reporting to get turned into concrete action. He believes “a lot of these practices of critical race theory actually violate the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act” that can be clarified and further articulated with new legislation. In the meantime, he hopes the UnAmerican Express campaign can make a difference.
“I think any successful public pressure campaign works because it changes public perception,” Rufo said. “As you chip away at their reputation, they can make a course correction and say, ‘We need to drop this stuff, it’s actually hurting our company.’”
Rufo then directed his message directly to the high-powered Squeri, who has been the CEO of American Express since 2018.
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“Steve Squeri, we see you. We’re going to keep coming after you. We’re going to be exposing American Express. We’re going to be directly attacking your company’s reputation,” Rufo said.
“Change your policies. Make an announcement. Protect your employees from racialist harassment and abuse in the workplace. And if not, organizations like Color of United … We’re going to be going after your brand identity and perception in a relentless way, so you have a final chance to do the right thing, and if not, I think you’re going to see very quickly the reputation of your company going downward in a bad direction.”
American Express did not respond to a request for comment about the UnAmerican Express campaign.
Fox Business’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.