Trump's Attack on Diversity Training and Education
On September 4th Trump’s Office of Management and Budget alerted all agency heads that federal agencies are no longer allowed to teach diversity training including teachings on critical race theory and white privilege. The president went as far as to call diversity training “anti-American” ignoring the serious need for such education during this turbulent time. This memo seemed to be somewhat prompted by the conservative journalist Christopher Rufo’s call to end such training on Fox News.
Rufo also claimed that he called the President a few weeks before the decision to discuss the “anti-white” training and that Trump delivered on his promise. Although concerning, his attack on diversity training does not come as a surprise to many who already understand Trump’s tendency to fan the flames of racial tension as opposed to quelling them. Examples of this include the president visiting sites of fatal police brutality not long after they occur to hold rallies which prompts negative interactions between Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protestors attending Trump rallies. Consequently, in a poll conducted by the National Public Radio, PBS, and Marist researchers found that ⅔ of Americans believed that the president damaged race relations after George Floyd’s death. This poll concluded that 92% of Democrats, 73% of independents, 88% of African Americans, and 63% of caucasian people believed that Trump had mostly increased racial tensions instead of dissolving them.
The president’s criticism of diversity training is not unlike his recent opposition to California’s proposed curriculum based on the New York Times project “1619”. On September 6th, Trump threatened to block funding from California public schools and any other schools that rely on federal funding that is considering such a curriculum. The project “1619”, developed by the New York Times and authored in part by the journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, seeks to reframe America’s history around slavery and the contributions of African-Americans throughout history. The project originated as a form of journalism and since winning a Pulitzer prize award the project has been converted into a curriculum for use in high schools. Although the project has received some criticism from leading traditional historians for its claim that the revolution was fought on the pretense of slavery, some schools have already been using the curriculum for months now including Chicago public schools, one of the largest districts in the U.S. While some criticisms against the “1619” project may be valid, the President did not cite any historical inaccuracies as a reason for his attack. Instead, he referred to his own nationalistic beliefs that America is the greatest country in the world and should be perceived as such.
To conclude, the president’s criticism of diversity training and African-American centered history are clear signs of his blatant disregard for the struggles of people of color in America. Trump's unwillingness to even attempt to resolve racial tensions, which are at an all-time high in the 21st century, has never been more clear.