Will the Biden-Harris administration roll back Trump’s diversity training restrictions?
In the euphoric glow of Biden-Harris’ historic election victory, many in black and brown America are eagerly awaiting the reversal of many controversial, unprecedented and damaging decisions of the Trump era – especially recent restrictions on training at the diversity. Since the unprecedented executive order not only impacts federal agencies and contractors, but also sets a dangerous example for all businesses, the force of September 22, 2020 Executive Decree was both widespread and severe. It was widely reported that organizations across the country abruptly reversed course on previously scheduled diversity trainings and essentially went into a sort of waiting pattern waiting to see what a new administration might bring. Meanwhile, three civil rights groups wasted no time in filing a court case. “This executive order is essentially a ‘Truth and Equality Gag Order’ that was deliberately designed to censor important conversations about persistent and entrenched racial and gender discrimination,” insists Jin Hee Lee, senior deputy director of litigation. , NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris specifically referenced “systemic racism” during their recent acceptance speeches. This explicit acknowledgment (not the first for either certainly) at this particular time was probably reassuring in the minds of many anti-racism and diversity and inclusion advocates, but the question remains. – will the executive decree on diversity training be repealed and if so, how quickly? These responses have important practical and symbolic implications.
Arguably, Trump’s blunt restriction on federal diversity training initiatives felt like a kick in the teeth for an increasingly fragile society struggling to heal itself from a grueling summer of racial protests and of troubles. Trump’s staunchest critics would likely characterize the controversial executive order as a rebellious final cry to culminate years of racially divisive dog whistle politics. Indeed, opponents of the Executive Order see it widely such as an extreme overreaction to anomalous instances of poorly executed training, a fundamental misunderstanding of key anti-racism and diversity concepts, and/or simply an overt decision to deny systemic racism altogether. “This executive order falls somewhere between minimization (at best) and denial (at worst),” says Michael Bach, author of the bestselling book Birds of all Feathers: Getting Diversity and Inclusion Right. “President Trump wants to deny the experiences of marginalized people, especially Americans of color. Systemic racism exists and an executive order saying we can’t talk about it is like an executive order saying we can’t acknowledge that the sky is blue. Meanwhile, many Trump supporters likely appreciate that the ban prevents them from having to take diversity training they didn’t want to attend anyway. Undoubtedly, many Trump supporters likely hailed the move as a belated rejection of concepts they adamantly reject, including white privilege, unconscious bias, and systemic racism.
Be that as it may, the decree had a chilling effect on many workplaces. Leaders of these organizations largely find themselves in an awkward position trying to decide whether to cancel scheduled events, suspend plans for new events, and/or fundamentally rethink their entire approach to diversity and inclusion. . “Employers are on edge,” insists Bach. “They’re afraid of what they can and can’t say with diversity and inclusion or anti-racism training.” Worse still, staff at all levels are placed in the unenviable position of having to defend many of their past diversity and inclusion efforts – now brutally branded as potentially “division” by the highest levels of government.
As many have argued that the Trump presidency has emboldened the worst (often racist) elements in our society, so too in the workplace, this executive order has often called on employees to question diversity initiatives and push back. trainings and other events designed to combat systemic attacks. racism. Diversity and inclusion consultant Neelam Chand explains: “If the ban is not overturned, we practitioners will face an additional challenge in combating the negative rhetoric around the important issues facing marginalized communities today. . In addition, The Dialogue Company’s director, Dr. David Campt, points out that the establishment of a “hotline” by the executive order is particularly problematic. “A significant factor in the ban is the ‘see something say something’ directive which essentially turns each person into a potential informant as to whether the directive is being violated.”
Many expect the Biden-Harris administration to be the antithesis of the Trump administration on the subject of race relations. Where Trump’s style has been widely seen as brash and abrasive with a penchant for fueling racial division, Biden was generally seen as likeable, measured — a good guy overall. The historic election of a Black/South Asian woman as Vice President of the United States of America accentuates the difference even further. For people of color, his election feels like a small measure of recompense for the angst of four years of otherwise toxic racial insensitivity. Trump commentary and policies including the Muslim ban, references to Mexicans as rapists, his obvious difficulty in clearly exposing white supremacist groups, the relentless encouragement of the birth plot, the questioning of the impartiality of a judge born in Indiana (due to her Mexican heritage), references to “good people on both sides” during the racially motivated protests in Charlottesville, and her reference to Black Lives Matter as hate symbol – unfortunately among other examples.
Comparing Trump and Biden on issues of racial justiceTrump supporters would likely point to the Trump administration’s increased funding for HBCUs as well as its criminal justice legislation (benefiting many black men in particular) and contrast that with Biden’s support of the Crime Bill of 1994 (widely credited as inciting the dramatic increase in incarceration rates for black men over the following years) and his resistance to federally mandated buses during desegregation as evidence of its less than stellar record when it comes to race. One major difference, however, is Biden’s (not to mention Kamala Harris’) unequivocal acknowledgment of systemic racism — not as radical, unpatriotic, left-wing propaganda designed to harm Americans, but rather as a sober reality to be addressed in the part of a long overdue, healing process necessary for all Americans – including American workplaces.
In practice, thanks to this executive order, many workplaces remain paralyzed on diversity and inclusion efforts. The combination of what many see as the vague, confusing, and misleading wording of the executive order, combined with little or no advance warning from the radical order, has left many leaders caught between the need to comply with new federal restrictions. and a sincere desire to respond to internal requests. pressure to follow through on previously announced racial justice initiatives. For many employees of color, this abrupt reversal/slowdown only reinforces longstanding cynicism about their organization’s true commitment to anti-racism.
During President-elect Biden acceptance speech, he proclaimed, “And especially for the times when this campaign was at its lowest – the African-American community has risen up for me again. They still have my back, and I will have yours. For many people of color, those words brought a sigh of relief after four years of preparation. But the truth is that there remains a sense of hope, but a cautious anticipation of what will really happen once Biden takes office in a still highly polarized political environment. For a community that has learned the hard way to temper expectations to minimize disappointment, after four years of the Trump administration, expectations are high. The status quo simply cannot hold.