Divisive concepts: Proclaimed white guilt driving anti-diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the land of the free, home of the brave

By Christopher Young,
Contributing Writer,

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey gave a commendation to Ashley M. Jones, in the storied state Capitol building, December 1, 2021. Jones had been named Poet Laureate of Alabama by the Alabama Writers Cooperative. The very first African American named in the 91-year history of the high honor. In her early 30’s, Jones was also the youngest ever, per numerous sources. She will hold the position from 2022-2026.
The New York Times wrote, in part, on October 21, 2021, “The poet Ashley M. Jones wants far more than financial reparations to compensate for centuries of slavery and its legacies – though she would take a check. To her, true reparations require an enormous cultural evolution.
“You think money can ever repay what you stole?” she asks in her third poetry collection, “Reparations Now!,” which was published in September. “Give me land, give me all the blood you ripped out of our backs, our veins.” “Give me the songs you said were yours but you know came out of our lips first,” she writes shortly after. “Give me back Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. Give me back the beauty of my hair. The swell of my hips. The big of my lips. Give me back the whole Atlantic Ocean. Give me a never-ending blue. And a mule.”
A phenomenally talented African-American woman – a published poet, fearless, bold and elegant – acknowledged and commended in Alabama. Was Alabama turning a corner toward change, social justice, equity – or was this high honor an anomaly in an otherwise non-progressive state?
Fast-forward two and half years, on March 20, 2024, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey “signed legislation that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public schools, universities and state agencies and prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts” including that someone should feel guilty because of their race or gender,” per the Associated Press.
The Census tells us that Alabama is 64.7% white. Glancing at their legislature webpage, only 26 of 103 photos of lower chamber members and only 6 of 35 photos of upper chamber members were not pale – so 76.82% of their legislators are white – doing battle to warp the moral arch of justice. Pretending that American history, Alabama history is filled with examples of social justice. Their need for supremacy runs deep, delusionally deep.
Defying any image that makes sense, Alabama is not alone. The national agenda to slash – like a whip through flesh – anything that creates a more level playing field for minorities is on the chopping block. On March 2, 2024, NBC News wrote, “Republican lawmakers in more than 30 states have introduced or passed more than 100 bills to either restrict or regulate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the current legislative session, according to an NBC News analysis.
They write, “Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the national protests that followed, schools, companies and individuals sought more solutions to become more racially and socially inclusive. But those efforts have invited a backlash, with conservative media outlets, politicians, lawyers, and social media influencers now countering DEI efforts in several industries, from higher education institutions to airlines.”
“Advocates for the anti-DEI movement have called such policies and programs unconstitutional, holding that focusing on diversity and inclusion only divides Americans and fosters “white guilt.” These efforts are part of the larger conservative push against “wokeness.” The anti-DEI efforts follow, and have gained momentum from, the backlash to Black Lives Matter and the implementation of laws to limit what can be taught about race in schools.”
Not shockingly, 100% of these anti-DEI bills are brought by white Republicans. None are brought by minorities or Democrats. What are they afraid of? How do they justify their wrongheadedness to their offspring? It reminds of the tried-and-true adage – people of quality don’t fear equality. And with each new afront to equality, America suffers. No suffering is more acute, more blistering, than for African Americans who are forced over and over again to ask the question of themselves that white people in America never have to ask – why does my country hate me so much?
“We don’t need to persuade most businesspeople on diversity,” Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League, previously told NBC News. “We just have to encourage them to be courageous and not be intimidated by politicians, mainly a bunch of politicians, billionaires and right-wing actors.”
In righteous juxtaposition, on March 27, 2024, yet another museum will open in Montgomery, courtesy of Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The Freedom Monument Sculpture Park, located on a 17-acre site, combines historical artifacts, contemporary art, original research, and first-person narratives to provide an authentic and historically significant space that explores the institution of slavery, the lives of enslaved people, and the legacy of slavery in this country, per BriminghamTimes.com. Do you suppose Governor Kay Ivey will be on-hand to offer a commendation?

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