NAME response to Sept. 22 White House order, attacking Diversity & Inclusion Training

The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) knows that the real strength and beauty of the United States lie in the incredible diversity of the more than 330 million people who populate this great nation. True inclusion and an authentic sense of belonging, however, remain ongoing challenges for people of color, women, people in the LGBTQIA community, people with disabilities and many others who have long been excluded. This is why people are protesting the police killings of George Floyd (2020),  Daniel Prude (2020), Jacob Blake (2020), Breonna Taylor (2020) just to name a few this year. Unfortunately, there are many, many more. It’s also why NAME is distressed and outraged that President Donald Trump in a Sept. 22 Executive Order calls for the immediate eradication of what NAME embraces as effective training for diversity and inclusion. Trump’s desperate order covers the federal workforce, the U.S. Armed Forces, grants to fund such efforts, and federal contractors. It is as if the Alt-Right wrote this manifesto, co-opting and twisting to the hard-core conservative views pivotal elements of civil rights history such as “the battlefield of Gettysburg,” the “bus boycott in Montgomery (Ala.),” “the Selma to Montgomery marches” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

NAME is fully aware that it is only when real diversity and inclusion training confronts the painful and awful history of the United States to challenge racism, sexism, homophobia and related forms of oppression that there is even a glimmer of hope that social justice, equity, and real change now and in the future are possible. Trump’s order aims to eliminate any “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.” While many critical trainings cause discomfort in some by challenging racism and sexism as an intentional outcome of the United States, Trump has led the U.S. on a platform of illegalizing human beings, on justifying rape of women, and on systemic exploitation of people of color, and specifically Latinx, Black, and Indigenous communities. Certainly, dozens of laws, a handful of constitutional amendments and progressive executive orders since the 19th century have been ineffective in eliminating systematic and institutional racism, segregation, discrimination, bigotry, explicit and implicit bias, decolonizing people’s thinking or altering individuals’ behavior. Yet Trump’s wrongheaded executive order exposes a white supremacist view that such training promotes “divisiveness” and “inefficiency.” NAME sees the order as framed within the language of whiteness. It aims to “combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating” to “promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting,” “to promote unity in the Federal workforce” and “foster a workplace that is respectful of all employees.” This unity is meant to be achieved through systemic denial of any mention of structural racism and sexism, and through banning the challenging of individuals who promote white and male supremacies. Indeed, this order could be considered a white male supremacist manifesto, a continued part of Trump’s foundational Nazi-based national platform. The order is particularly offensive coming less than a week after the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Like a document pulled from a fascist-playbook, the order “assigns at least one senior political appointee responsibility for ensuring compliance with the requirements.” The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs also is to set up a policing hotline to investigate complaints. In addition, the heads of all agencies are to review grant programs to ensure that they comply with the order. This turns federal workers on each other and ensures a toxic and hostile workplace for federal and contract workers and individuals serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Given Trump’s continued violence against women, use of racially offensive slurs, and enacting of racially disparate policies and practices, it would appear that he is in direct violation of his own order. NAME sees this effort as one within a long-line of U.S.-led intentional genocide of people of color and other long-oppressed groups, and urges educational communities to rise up, ignore the ban, vote in the Nov. 3 General Election, and take to the streets to protest this latest manifestation of white male supremacy.

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