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Chief Diversity Officer Steps Down Amid Backlash Over ‘Privilege’ Email

Dr. Sherita Hill Golden has stepped down from her role as vice president and chief diversity officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The act comes two months after backlash for an email newsletter in which Golden explained the concept of privilege, according to reporting from The Baltimore Sun. In the January newsletter from the Baltimore hospital and research center’s diversity office, Golden wrote that “privilege” was the “word of the month,” defining it as “a set of unearned benefits given to people who are in a specific social group.” The social groups were categorized, in part, as white people, heterosexuals, cisgender people, men, and Christians.

Dr. Sherita Hill GoldenDr. Sherita Hill GoldenConservative politicians and media outlets criticized the email as an example that diversity, equity, and inclusion work is tax-funded discrimination. U.S. Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland’s First District called for Golden’s termination.

“This kind of woke discrimination has no place in modern healthcare and science,” Harris stated. “In light of this diversity memo, patients who consider Johns Hopkins for their healthcare should think twice if they belong in one of the listed categories about whether or not they will receive appropriate care or be treated as second class individuals at Hopkins.

“This blatant discriminatory sentiment is contrary to all the principles held dear in America, and certainly not expected from an institution that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the federal government – including dollars to fund that office of Chief Diversity Officer,” he continued. “The only appropriate action on the part of Johns Hopkins Medicine is to fire that individual immediately.” 

Golden issued an apology in January for defining “privilege” and retracted it. And although she garnered support to stay on the job by members of institution, Hopkins Medicine’s Medical Faculty Dean Dr. Theodore DeWeese and Johns Hopkins Health System President Kevin Sowers announced that Golden decided to step down from her role as vice president and chief diversity officer after “a great deal of reflection.” She is expected to continue to work as professor of endocrinology and metabolism and diabetes researcher.

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