Duke Medical School asserts that expecting punctuality from people of color is part of “white supremacy culture” in its strategic plan for an “anti-racist workforce.”

The 2021 plan, titled “Dismantling Racism and Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Medicine,” aims to “catalyze anti-racist practice through education.” The guide, praised by the school’s dean, identifies punctuality, dress code, speech, and work style as aspects of “white supremacy culture.”

Duke Medical School Labels Punctuality as 'White Supremacy Culture'
Dr. Mary Klotman, dean of Duke’s School of Medicine, stated that their strategy to dismantle racism and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion was designed with a necessary and deliberate flexibility.

The document explains that “White supremacy culture” elevates white ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions above those of people of color, leading to unearned advantages for white individuals. It highlights critical race theory, stating that racism is embedded in American law, culture, and economics, benefiting white people.

The guide argues that “white supremacy culture” in the workplace privileges white professionalism standards related to dress, speech, work style, and timeliness. Identifiable characteristics include perfectionism, power hoarding, individualism, and a sense of urgency.

Duke Medical School Labels Punctuality as 'White Supremacy Culture'
The 2021 plan, “Dismantling Racism and Advancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the School of Medicine,” includes several terms critical of White culture.

Dr. Mary E. Klotman, the dean, commended the guide for reflecting the medical school’s “goals, priorities, and strategies.” She urged individuals to consider actions to support the plan’s collective goals of dismantling racism and promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The school’s mission includes establishing recruitment pipelines at historically black colleges and universities and community colleges. It also addresses “white fragility,” a term coined by Robin DiAngelo, describing defensive reactions by white individuals during discussions on racial inequality.

Duke’s School of Medicine emphasizes that equity, diversity, and inclusion are core elements of institutional excellence, as stated on their website. The university is committed to creating a culture of inclusion where underrepresented faculty, staff, and students feel valued and empowered.

Some DEI advocates argue that professionalism standards are racially biased. An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review suggests that timeliness is a product of capitalism favoring white individuals. Similarly, the UCLA Law Review describes professionalism as a racial construct.

The National Museum for African American History and Culture has linked whiteness to traits such as delayed gratification and linear thinking. The dean of Duke Medical School stated that the plan reflects the institution’s goals and strategies.