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Five questions for DEI training

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs are meant to shut down dissent, but there are ways to challenge them

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Five questions for DEI training
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“Anti-racist” training—often under the banner of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)—has taken the Western world by storm. In the corporate world, DEI training represents an estimated $8 billion-a-year industry. Fortune reports that organizations with dedicated resources and budget for DEI, allocate between $7 million and $10 million annually “regardless of company size.” A 60-90 minute keynote from anti-racist trainer Robin DiAngelo could run $30,000 and a bargain at $40,000 for a half-day event. Anti-racism, for all of its anti-capitalist sentiments, certainly does not deter its proponents from profiteering.

Many find themselves at a loss as to how to respond to the training, which often features dogmas like “American racism is a uniquely white trait,” “Black people cannot be racist,” and “whiteness is wicked.” Since even the slightest departure from the established narrative can jeopardize one’s social standing and livelihood, many keep silent. Yet for courageous souls there are several questions that can help pierce through the propaganda and encourage others to turn what is typically an unquestionable monologue into a more meaningful dialogue. I briefly offer five questions:

1. Is this training encouraging us to make value judgements about people, pre-judging them based on their pigmentation? If so, isn’t that the very definition or racism? Follow up question: If this training includes pigmentation-based prejudices how is it compatible with federal Title VII laws, state hostile work environment laws, and our organization’s harassment policies?

2. How do we square the DEI narrative of America as intrinsically supremacist with the fact that whites rank 16th on the scale of “Median Household Income by Selected Ancestry Groups”? The United States Census Bureau has found that Indians, Taiwanese, Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese, Iranian, Japanese, Pakistani, Filipino, Indonesian, Syrian, Korean, Ghanian, Nigerian, and Guyanese earn more income on average than whites in the United States.

3. Is this training going to cover the most deadly forms of systemic racism? The number one cause of death for black Americans is the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood, fulfilling the legacy of its founder Margaret Sanger “to exterminate the Negro population” has positioned 79% of its abortion clinics within walking distance of minority communities. Experts estimate that over 19 million black lives have been terminated by the abortion industry in the United States since Roe v. Wade. The government funding of Planned Parenthood is systemic racism at its most lethal. Why is this 50-year assault against small black bodies not covered in this training? If we really care about inclusivity, shouldn’t we include these human lives in our discussion of equality?

Whites tend to be more ‘woke’ on racial issues than the average black or Hispanic.

4. Is it possible that we are listening to mostly white far leftist voices masquerading as black voices? Most of the axiomatic, discussion-framing terms of DEI training, terms typically stipulated rather than defended, originate with white ideologues—“whiteness” from Judith Katz, “white privilege” from Peggy McIntosh, “white fragility” from Robin DiAngelo, and “racism” as “prejudice plus power” from Patricia Bidol-Padva. Citing a litany of recent sociological studies, Musa al-Gharbi points out that “relatively well-off, highly educated, liberal whites tend to be among the most zealous in identifying and prosecuting new forms of racism. ... Whites tend to be more ‘woke’ on racial issues than the average black or Hispanic.” According to Pew Research, less than one in three black people without college degrees believe their race has made it harder for them to succeed (29 percent), while 60 percent believe “race has not been a factor in their success or failures.”

5. Is it possible that the very DEI dogmas intended to help “people of color”POC actually inflict more harm? Musah al-Gharbi argues that “evidence is growing that many fashionable formulations of “racism” (and antiracist activism) may be directly pernicious for people of color. … There are very well-established and highly-adverse impacts of the psychological (and even physical) well-being of people of color when they perceive more racism, racial inequality, and discrimination.” Ian Rowe, CEO for a network of black charter schools, adds, “If you’re a kid and you keep hearing over and over and over that because of your race these are the outcomes that you’re going to have in your life, it’s really hard to feel a sense of personal agency.”

Indeed, there is a vast array of black voices who find such training deeply patronizing and harmful. Do the perspectives of Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, John McQuorter, Monique Duson, Glenn Loury, Brandon Tate, Coleman Hughes, Voddie Baucham, John Perkins, Roland Fryer, Jason Reilly, Ian Rowe, Larry Elder, and countless others who reject the dogmas of DEI training matter? Or does such training marginalize these voices of color, while pretending to center voices of color?

Asking any of these five questions in a typical DEI training session may be risky. But if we care to stand against the sin of racism in all forms—even when it masquerades as “anti-racism”—then someone must be willing to take that risk.

Thaddeus Williams

Thaddeus Williams is the author of the best-selling book Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice (Zondervan/HarperCollins, 2020). He serves as associate professor of systematic theology for the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and resides in Orange County, Calif., with his wife and four kids.

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