2020-09-21 Responding to President Trump’s Memo on Diversity Training from the NTL Social Justice Hub

NTL Public Statement – Responding to President Trump’s Memo on Diversity Training

Monday, September 21, 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

We of the Social Justice Hub of NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science are disturbed by President Trump’s recent memo regarding diversity training. This memo, M-20-34 issued on September 4, 2020, states that the executive branch agencies have spent taxpayer’s dollars on training government workers to believe divisive anti-American propaganda. It states diversity trainings focusing on white privilege, critical race theory and racist origins of the United States create “division and resentment” among federal employees. The memo states the government is “fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.”

As NTL holds social justice to be one of our key values, we feel it is important to respond to this memo.

We know from our experience and work with organizations, that when White people understand and acknowledge the privilege that they have, this acknowledgment creates more connection with People of Color. In understanding the privilege White people have, the goal and intent are not to feel guilty, but to realize the responsibility they have. This conversation may be uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable allows for learning and can lead to taking anti-racist actions. Being silent about this reality creates divisiveness.

Critical race theory and the racist origins of the United States are important in a country that values freedom of speech. Too many of us have been educated in a system which overlooks the racist origins and present realities of systemic racism, understanding it only as individual acts of overt hatred. Many scholars have worked to prove a more accurate representation of the history of the United States. Since June of 2020, many White U.S. Americans who have not realized the inequities of systems such as healthcare, and criminal justice have been awakened. Not facing this issue will not make it go away, but will continue to cause division among those who have suffered these inequities and those who have not experienced this.

We acknowledge that equality is an often-claimed value in the United States, but believe equity is what we should strive for. Equality means everyone gets the same treatment and does not consider the barriers established by the historic and present reality that People of Color have and are experiencing. Equity, however, means removing the barriers and putting policies in place that ensure everyone has equal access and opportunity.

We hope you join us in taking a stand promoting freedom of speech, equity, and a realistic view of the United States regarding social justice. We remain committed to engaging together as educators and trainers in the worthwhile struggle to move this nation toward this vision.

In solidarity,

The Social Justice Hub of NTL