Higher Ed’s Shameful Silence on DiversityRoundup
tags: racism, diversity, multiculturalism, colleges and universities
Hasan Kwame Jeffries is an associate professor of history at Ohio State University.
This past summer, far-right media outlets from Fox News to Breitbart flooded the airwaves and the internet with stories about diversity training within the federal government. These features castigated the programs, accusing them of encouraging discrimination against white people, especially white men, by promoting ideas of white racial inferiority.
This, of course, was nonsense. Diversity training does no such thing.
Mary Morten, the president and founder of a company that conducts racial-equity trainings for government agencies and nonprofits, explained recently that the interactive trainings they lead simply “do a variety of things to make sure that people understand some of the history of what bias has looked like in this country, [and] what power and privilege have looked like.” She added that at the end of their sessions, there is always “some action planning” designed to help participants figure out how they can take what they learned and “embed it” in their organization.
Morten, like other racial-equity trainers, does not sow seeds of racial division. Instead, she helps clients eliminate discriminatory beliefs and behaviors among employees, a process that makes organizations more equitable and effective.
Recently, the right-wing media’s talking points have been taken up by President Trump, who unleashed a Twitter storm against diversity training. He called critical race theory (a framework for understanding the centrality of race and racism in American society) “a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue” and has denied the existence of race-based privilege.
Right-wing diatribes about diversity training often ended with a call for Trump to issue an executive order banning federal agencies from holding them. So it was not unexpected when, on September 22, Trump signed an executive order forbidding diversity training within the government. The order asserts that these trainings perpetuate “racial stereotypes and division and can use subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint.” It justifies these baseless claims by offering a twisted reimagining of U.S. history, a version of the past that posits that the nation’s “Founding documents” rejected “racialized views of America.”
This nonsense of the far right had found its way into federal policy.
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