‘Weapons of Whiteness’: Minneapolis Racial-Equity Leader Accuses Black Council Members of Anti-Black Discrimination

The former racial-equity director for the City of Minneapolis claims that she is the victim of anti-black racism, including by prominent black leaders of the far-left Minnesota city.

In a 14-page memo sent this month to city leaders, Tyeastia Green alleges that she was subjected to a “racist” and “toxic” work environment almost immediately after she was hired to be the city’s director of racial equity, inclusion, and belonging a year ago.

Green alleges that city leaders have lied about her, gaslit her, sabotaged her, used “weapons of whiteness” against her, and have intentionally erected “every barrier” to ensure that she failed. Her memo quotes prominent black writers Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, as well as authors of books about workplace racism, colorism, antiblackness, and black feminist rage.

The memo, published online by the Star Tribune, even includes a diagram outlining the typical pattern of “The ‘Problem’ Woman of Colour in the Workplace,” which starts with “white leadership” making a “tokenized hire,” followed by a honeymoon phase, and ending with targets and attacks against the woman, who then exits the organization. “I believe I have gone through each of these phases,” Green wrote, “and that’s unfortunate.”

Green also accuses black city council members Latrisha Vetaw and Andrea Jenkins, the council president, of lying about her and engaging in antiblack racism against her. “Blacks can utilize Antiblackness and racism against other Blacks,” she wrote, accusing Vetaw and Jenkins of creating “an unsafe and unhealthy work environment for Black people.”

Green’s claims of victimhood come after the Star Tribune reported that she made false statements to the city council last month about donor funding for the “I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream Expo,” a celebration of Minneapolis’s black community. Green had told the council that she’d been offered $3 million for the expo by the Bush Foundation, but that was not true, according to a foundation spokeswoman. The event went on with a late infusion of money from the city. In all, taxpayers ended up paying about a half-million dollars for the expo, which had about 3,700 people register online, and appeared to draw far fewer than the 20,000 attendees that Green had forecast, according to media accounts.

Green was hired last March to lead the city’s race and equity division, which “drives culture change throughout the City enterprise and aims to dismantle systemic disparities and institutionalized racism to improve the lives of residents,” according to a now-deleted announcement that had been posted to the city’s website.

In the announcement, Jenkins called Green’s role “critical,” and said “we must be bold and act decisively as we address the longstanding racial inequities in our city.”

In her memo, Green said she had “high hopes” about joining the city, which “has a well-represented city council, liberal leadership, and from the outside looking in, all of the items in place to move our city from racist to antiracist.” After George Floyd’s killing in the city in 2020, Minneapolis had a “unique platform” that could “influence the entire nation,” she wrote.

But after “being in the belly of the beast for nearly a year,” it was clear that Minneapolis is more than just far behind in the fight against racism, Green wrote. “Minneapolis holds, matures, coddles, perpetuates, and massages a racist anti-black work culture,” the memo said.

On her first day of work, Green wrote, she was “placed in a windowless, mouse-infested space that shared a wall with inmates.” She said she had to beg for a new space for her team.

She claims that she was treated like a division leader, and not like the department head she was hired to be. She claims that she had “fake ethics complaints” filed against her, had “rules changed just for me,” didn’t receive the resources she needed for projects, and felt “pressured to center whiteness,” according to the memo.

“I do have an extensive list of racism, microaggressions, and antiblackness acts doled out from leadership to several Black people in the enterprise, including myself,” Green wrote.

For example, Green wrote that she was informed that the city’s operation officer was allegedly afraid of her. “Saying that you fear a black professional is a racist trope,” Green wrote.

At one point, the operations officer told Green that a leadership conference she planned to attend out of state didn’t qualify as leadership development, and that she would have to pay back the city for her expenses and use PTO to attend. “I asked her who decides what is and is not a leadership conference,” Green wrote.

The Star Tribune reported that the conference was the See Change Sessions, which was held in Burlington, Vt., where Green worked before moving home to Minnesota. “The three days of the See Change agenda included recreational and spiritual offerings, from snow kiting to yoga, with only a few events easily seen as relevant to racial equity and inclusion,” the paper reported.

Green appears to have particular animosity for Vetaw, and she used the memo to inform the city that she intends to file a defamation lawsuit against the councilwoman “and any of her accomplices on and off the council.” Green wrote that when she enters council chambers, Vetaw “sneers at me” and stares at her “with disgust.”

It’s unclear how Green officially left her job with the city. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Green said she resigned in February, but city officials asked her to rescind the resignation. Her last day on the job was March 13, though Minneapolis hasn’t provided any details around her exit.

“My decision to resign was from pure exhaustion, and my body, mind, and spirit could no longer take the racist, toxic nature of the enterprise,” Green wrote of her February resignation, adding that she had experienced chest pains and anxiety attacks. “Although I had no idea how to pay my bills and support my family, a huge weight was lifted. I would no longer have to swim in the waters of racism and antiblackness.”

Before taking the job in Minneapolis, Green held a similar position for about two years in Burlington, Vt. Her tenure there also ended with acrimony, a falling out with the mayor, and Green’s resignation. Sources told local media that Green felt “truly unwelcome” in Burlington, and that it was clear “the systemic change she was trying to bring was unwelcome.”

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