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COMMENTARY: There They Go Again – Gut or Shutdown DEI Initiatives

CINCINNATI HERALD — Erasure of African American and Native American history justifies the opposition to DEI initiatives. It denies the need to correct the imbalance resulting from generations of a privileged/marginalized social construct. If there is no cause, there is no effect, there is no need to take institutional corrective measures.

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Rev. Norman Franklin
Rev. Norman Franklin

By Rev. Norman Franklin | Herald Guest Columnist

Does America have a race problem? Is systemic racism permeating every fiber of the socioeconomic, sociopolitical institutions of America? Are race-based theories, particularly the Critical Race Theory, liberal extremism, or is it a reality that remains unacknowledged – the big grey elephant always in the room?

Answers trending from conservative Republican majorities grant us some perspective. Racism does not exist. And if history is properly presented, it never existed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R.Fla.) signed into law a bill that bans initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion. He viewed them as discriminatory practices. This was in April 2023. In May, Gov. Greg Abbot (R.Tx.) followed suit with legislation that shuttered all DEI initiatives. A June 2023 SCOTUS decision gutted Affirmative Action.

A July Harvard Business Review article, “Why Companies Can – and Should- Recommit to DEI in the Wake of the SCOTUS Decision” debunks a myth.    African Americans have been the face of Affirmative Action. The article by Tina Ople and Ella F. Washington, reveals that White women benefited the greater from Affirmative Action policies.

America has a proclivity for scapegoating African Americans. Ronald Reagan’s fictitious Cadillac Welfare Queen pictured Blacks as milking the Welfare System. When in fact, Whites were the greater number on the welfare rolls.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is the latest boogeyman. DEI is about promoting awareness of our differences, addressing structural inequalities, and creating an environment of community and respect for human differences and social identities.

Opponents portray an ominous goal of DEI.

More than 20 states have a combined 50 bills pending or signed into law that restrict or eliminate DEI programs. They purport to protect First Amendment free speech and shield potential employees and students from coercive practices. They are forced to align with divisive, discriminatory policies of DEI initiatives, they assert.

Legislators take the floor and pontificate destruction to our democratic system of government. Some draw analogies to Marxism and Communism. There is no mention of the centuries long system of chattel slavery or the decades of codified discrimination that fostered the inequities that must be righted.

According to Acts 17:26, God made every nation and people from one bloodline. “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth.”

But we are different. We were made that way. We process our experiences differently and come up with perspectives influenced by our experiences. In our nation of Christian leadership, this “great melting pot” of democracy, those differences should not erect invisible fences that keep us opposed to the goodwill of one another. The truth should tear down the fences and set us free.

We cannot deny the interconnectedness of the past and the present. We cannot deny America’s history and its imprint on the discord in our society, the imbalance in our economy, and the ambiance of conflicted dysfunction in government – state and federal.

Conservative legislatures move to prohibit the inclusion of African/African American history in academic curriculum. Native American history is equally shunned.

African American history and Native American history is American history; however, the amalgamated and comfortable version legislators prefer castrates our experiences and insults our heritage.

The genesis of the opposition is that Whites should not experience guilt when learning about history. That’s a misappropriation of guilt. Knowledge of the past bears no guilt; it could lead to shame, and shame spurs corrective action to ensure that mistakes are not repeated.

Erasure of African American and Native American history justifies the opposition to DEI initiatives. It denies the need to correct the imbalance resulting from generations of a privileged/marginalized social construct. If there is no cause, there is no effect, there is no need to take institutional corrective measures.

When the seats of government — the legislative and the executive branches – rests in the hands of one ideological movement, unrestrained by the weakness of opposition, legislative measures born out of the simmering angst of decades of feigned “go along” with social correctives are pushed through that roll back the progress towards the more perfect union.

The legislative body is comfortable with the imbalance of power and inequalities of society. They wield the sphere of authority over the marginalized.

The African American could feel a sense of betrayal; but we felt the sting of ingratitude when we returned from the battlefields in Europe and the Pacific Theater. Our red blood soaked into foreign soils, but many were denied access to the GI benefits that fueled postwar prosperity.

Those who govern are the descendants of those who enslaved us; they deny the inhumanity of this immoral and unjust system.

Those who govern are the generations of those who codified Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws into a social construct that devalued Black life and castrated their dignity.

These are the progeny, the sons and daughters of those who have benefited from systemic injustice but deny that inequality permeates every fiber of the social construct of America. It’s all they have known; it feels so normal. They can feel justified in the unjust laws they legislate; they can feel comfortable in the rollback of corrective measures. They can see no wrong in ending DEI initiatives.

As the Ronald Reagan, the quintessential Republican, said during a presidential debate. “There you go again.”

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this commentary piece do not necessarily the express the opinions of The Cincinnati Herald.

The post, “There they go again – gut or shutdown DEI initiatives” appeared first on The Cincinnati Herald .

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