December 6, 2023

Virginia’s Chief Range Officer Martin D. Brown’s feedback on the Virginia Navy Institute spotlight a rising pattern of dismissing the worth of range not solely within the commonwealth, but additionally all throughout the USA.

Whereas talking on the Virginia Navy Institute (VMI) final Friday, Virginia’s Chief Range Officer Martin D. Brown criticized the entire idea of range, fairness, and inclusion initiatives, declaring that “DEI is useless.” 

“Let’s take a second proper now to kill that cow,” he mentioned. “We’re not going to carry that cow up anymore. It’s useless. It was mandated by the Normal Meeting, however this governor has a distinct philosophy of civil discourse.” 

Brown was the featured speaker at a compulsory annual “inclusive excellence” coaching for VMI’s school and employees members, and his speech got here at a very delicate time for the establishment. VMI is at the moment going through off in opposition to conservative alumni who’re utilizing a petition drive and a lawsuit to problem range, fairness, and inclusion efforts on the college. 

The nation’s oldest state-supported navy school has been below hearth since 2020, after Black cadets and alumni publicly detailed the racism they confronted on the establishment publicly. In response, then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ordered an unbiased investigation into the college, saying that it suffered from a “clear and appalling tradition of ongoing structural racism.” 

Shortly afterward, VMI appointed its first Black superintendent, retired Military Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, and created a range, fairness, and inclusion workplace, led by two Black ladies: Jamica Love, the chief range officer, who’s on a go away of absence, and Briana Williams, now the appearing chief range officer.

Brown’s feedback on April 21 go instantly in opposition to the priorities of Gen. Wins, who has been vocal in regards to the want for range initiatives at VMI. As an alternative, Brown echoed the criticisms of the college’s conservative graduates, who amongst different issues, had a hand in altering the title of the DEI workplace to “Range, Alternative, and Inclusion” to mirror the title of Brown’s workplace in Richmond. Critics of the college’s efforts falsely declare that DEI measures are “anti-white.”

“VMI’s in a novel area,” Brown mentioned final Friday. “You’ve been on the tip of the spear in serving our nation in sending warriors to battle, however in a approach, you’re on the tip of the spear on this cultural struggle as nicely. Typically, if you end up specializing in fairness, you’re not pursuing advantage or excellence or achievement. Not on a regular basis, however you’re taking a look at equal outcomes.”

VMI’s range workplace web site now says that modifications to its content material are forthcoming, stating that it’ll “higher mirror the mission and objectives of Range, Alternative, and Inclusion all through the Commonwealth, as led by Gov. Youngkin.” 

These newest strikes by VMI, and Brown’s feedback, spotlight a rising pattern of anti-diversity schooling restrictions being aggressively pushed throughout the USA.

Because the begin of the 2022-23 college yr — July 1 via Dec. 30, 2023 — there have been at the least 1,477 separate situations of ebook bans affecting 874 distinctive titles in 182 college districts and 37 states, in accordance with PEN America, a nonprofit group that works to defend and rejoice free expression.

In Virginia, the state Board of Schooling solely not too long ago permitted new historical past requirements for youngsters in kindergarten via twelfth grade, after a back-and-forth between officers tasked with reviewing and revising the requirements, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration, who confronted accusations of “whitewashing historical past.” Earlier variations of the proposed requirements that had been backed by Youngkin had deleted all references to Martin Luther King Jr. and referred to Native Individuals as “the primary immigrants,” to the nation, for instance.

The ultimate model, nonetheless, requires, for the primary time, that Virginia college students be taught about racism, particularly the notion that the USA’ historical past is difficult and nuanced.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has labored at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, together with serving numerous roles at CNBC, NBC Information, Philadelphia Journal, and Philadelphia Model Journal.