Resisting the White House Efforts to Dismantle Federal ED&I Programs

I am sure many of you have heard by now about the recent White House memo to cancel diversity training that was issued to all federal agencies throughout the United States. This is likely one of the most blatant acts of systemic or institutional racism that we have ever witnessed; a blatant attempt to distort and dismiss the legitimate demonstrations and calls for equity and racial justice!

The purported justification for this ban is the allegation that the training is based on “divisive, anti-American propaganda.” The memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget states, “these sessions only foster resentment in the workforce.”

To add insult to injury, the White House also has asked the Department of Education to investigate whether California public schools are implementing the New York Times’ 1619 Project into their curriculum, and is threatening to withhold funding for the state’s education department. The Pulitzer Prize-winning initiative aims to reframe American history around the year slavery began in this country, and place “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

Not only is this assault on these critical programs preposterous, the White House is blatantly incorporating and patterning the “rationale” for their cancellation on arguments made by the white supremacist organization and website Breitbart. This administration is attempting to erase and rewrite history while reviving and championing fear, resentment and racial animus as the measure for what they are defining as “pro-America.”

The irony is, the White House is making this transparently backwards push at a time when there is a nationwide effort, in the wake of the videotaped murder of George Floyd, by corporations, nonprofits, cultural institutions, arts organizations and the film studios, to seek and/or promote ways to disrupt systemic racism.

I have been an advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for nearly 40 years. As a consequence this work has enabled arts organizations and cultural institutions to engage and offer access to BIPOC communities in a far-reaching and impactful way. I know what a difference this work has made in the communities where we’ve made concerted efforts; I continue to observe how ED&I plus Access enhances the quality of life for so many people, especially children and youth.

That’s why I am urging the readers of Arts & Culture Connections to RESIST, speak out and push back against this attack on the need to continuing doing work that is necessary for building an equitable, just and harmonious society.

I hope those of you advocating, presenting and/or receiving Equity, Diversity and Inclusion training will not only raise your voices in support of its value, but also continue to positively demonstrate (and share) how your organizations or your lives have been transformed as a result of your participation. It is only by acknowledging how deeply imbedded racism is in our society; examining its impact and taking concrete action to address its effects can we truly become a “pro-America” society worthy of the dreams and aspirations of all people who call this nation home.

Please share your efforts in the comments section below: What action will you take in the coming week to insure the future of EDI&A training and programs?

4 thoughts on “Resisting the White House Efforts to Dismantle Federal ED&I Programs

  1. Donna, thank YOU for writing such a strong RESIST letter. The cultural sector has tremendous potential to strengthen society-wide diversity and inclusion efforts through powerful and meaningful programming and best professional practices. Keep up the good work you continue to do!
    John Haworth, Senior Executive Emeritus, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

  2. I was just wondering how the Smithsonian, especially the NMAI and NMAAHC, would react to all this, so I was glad to see John Haworth’s response. Donna, thank you for sharing, and please keep the information coming!

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