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Alexander: Keep Fighting for DEI

We have a lot to answer for in this country, even if the legislature doesn’t think so.
The+House+Chamber+at+the+Utah+State+Capitol+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Friday%2C+Jan.+19%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Marco+Lozzi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Marco Lozzi
The House Chamber at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Last summer, I quizzed the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Utah on whether or not they would fight to protect DEI in higher education — specifically for our institution — amidst incoming legislative attacks. They couldn’t answer. And that makes sense, considering how after Gov. Spencer Cox condemned signed diversity statements in hiring, the U President’s Office removed any mentions of diversity from job postings.

It appears that, like I said last year, legislative attacks are really only supplemental to verbal ones, as a few words from elected leaders immediately have Taylor Randall and co. bowing down to the legislature.

But it doesn’t matter now — H.B. 261, the anti-DEI bill sponsored by Rep. Katy Hall, passed its last major vote in the Senate. It now heads to the governor’s desk, where he will sign it into law.

The Utah officials who support the bill deny that communities of color struggle to make it to higher education and other coveted spaces once designated for whites only. They deny the very real statistics of the school-to-prison pipeline and racial wealth gaps, which keep people of color from attending higher education institutions. They forget — or rather, refuse to acknowledge — that white people have had systems and resources in place that have helped them reach higher education, wealth and status. And by overhauling DEI programs across the state, these officials effectively shut out opportunities for others — people of color, really — to access the places and offices they have.

Despite passionate pleas from groups like Utah Students Unite, the Black Menaces and other Utahns — groups who will no doubt be affected by H.B. 261 — Utah officials pushed the bill through the legislature with incredible speed. Even upon learning that their bill could jeopardize tuition waivers for Indigenous students, sponsors Hall and Sen. Keith Grover pushed forward anyway — despite admitting they hadn’t thought of the bill’s full impacts.

I could say this goes to show that Utah officials don’t care about people of color in this state, but we already know Utah has a problem with racism. We have school districts with racial harassment lawsuits and parents opting their kids out of Black History Month lessons. As if the adults aren’t bad enough, kids have made monkey noises and barked at students of color during basketball games. We like to act surprised and horrified at these events, but the legislature’s decision to feign ignorance of them reinforces racist attitudes and antagonism toward DEI.

Attacks on DEI aren’t new, and they won’t stop. However, what legislators fail to realize is that DEI programs are not about political ideologies or scholarships based on race. DEI also isn’t about the exclusion of white people. Rather, DEI is the inclusion and support of people who were enslaved, exploited and oppressed in this country based on demographic characteristics out of their control. DEI programs are here to make up for that, little by little.

These programs not only promote a sense of belonging in communities often left out of spaces and conversations, but allow us to confront inaccurate historical narratives and consistent racism in our country — something we desperately need.

But unfortunately, listing reasons to keep DEI programs doesn’t help anymore because our voices fall on deaf ears.

Besides the fact that H.B. 261 and the viewpoints demonstrated by public officials undermine the very real systemic and incidental racism communities of color face, it’s most disappointing to see how President Randall and the U administration — who once staunchly supported DEI — are now silent.

In a conversation with the Chronicle in September, Randall said that his discussions with the legislature over DEI were “productive” and “yielding points of common ground.” He said, “Everyone is on the same page with respect to promoting access to the system.” When talking about potential legislative attacks on DEI, he said, “We’ll speak to that common ground and continue to ask that we’re able to do the good work around diversity, equity and inclusion that we’ve done.”

But clearly, there is no common ground. Our legislators don’t think people of color deserve access to the system. To them, since DEI programs don’t help white people, they don’t help at all.

And I’m not the only student upset with our campus administration’s response. Eliana Massey of Utah Students Unite expressed the same sentiment.

“I think the university’s response is disappointing,” they said. “I understand that the university might not have a ton of leverage with the legislature, but I think it’s disappointing, at a time like this, when so many students are scared, to put out a message saying, ‘We’ll comply with whatever the legislature thinks is best,’ when clearly the legislature does not think that diversity, equity or inclusion is best.”

We can keep explaining why we need DEI, but that will not be enough for the ever-rising racism coming from our public officials. For supporters of DEI, opponents will continue to label them evil.

If pushing for more racial diversity on campuses, establishing resources for marginalized communities and promoting spaces of belonging for Black and brown students is evil, then call me the devil. If I have to dedicate my life and legacy to upholding DEI in a place where it’s not welcome, then so be it, because we have a lot to answer for in this country, even if the legislature doesn’t think so.

 

[email protected]

@CamdenAlexande1

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About the Contributors
CJ Alexander
CJ Alexander, Special Projects Managing Editor
Marco Lozzi
Marco Lozzi, Photographer
Born in Texas and raised by Italian parents, Marco Lozzi grew up with two vastly different cultures. Now a sophomore at the U, he is majoring in communication with a journalism emphasis while also minoring in photography and Italian. He joined the Chrony to gain experience working as a photojournalist for a larger entity. When he's not taking or editing photos, he can be found hitting the slopes, napping, or making pasta.

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  • J

    John HedbergJan 31, 2024 at 8:41 pm

    Response to Angie, below:

    Asking as an intersectional BIPOC undergraduate here at the U: did you miss the part about how Equity is racist, sexist, hetero-phobic, anti-faith, promotes and perpetuates hateful stereotypes that impede true equality, and also seeks to target, suppress, and dehumanize even marginalized voices if any of them dare to disagree with Equity’s narcissistic boutique hatreds and narratives? (“from the River to the Sea” is a call to genocide towards one of the most oppressed and liberal groups in modern history, but “Oh Well!”~)

    And then there’s the fact that Equity’s Prophets literally advocated murder of Utahn grandparents in 2021 and ‘22 based on race, when Utah Equity’s medical S.S. attempted to deny life-saving COVID medicine to dying seniors, not because there wasn’t enough medicine, but simply because they looked wrong in the “compassionate” eyes of Equity’s racist grievance mafia?

    Regarding slavery, during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, the 13 state delegations agreed that the final draft could only be passed by unanimous vote, since signing it meant an instant death sentence by the Crown of Great Britain. During that process, 10 of the 13 delegations (76%) voted to pass a draft which would have freed all the slaves, even though the author himself (Jefferson), along with many other leaders, was a slave owner. Only the 3 most Southern state delegations refused to pass the draft freeing all the slaves, so the language criminalizing slavery was removed from the final draft on the majority’s assumption that slavery could be starved and eliminated at a future date, once (and assuming) they lived to see Independence achieved.

    Because of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 & President John Quincy Adams’ return to the House of Representatives, we have certainty that Abolitionist forces never ceased in opposing slavery’s existence, and that it never existed in more than 50% of the Antebellum states. Even in those antebellum slave states, only a small percentage of people ever owned a slave, but their corruption had a powerful influence, since they controlled most of the wealth and economies in the areas where their plantation-kingdoms held sway, a direct contradiction to the whole reason we as a people broke free of the yoke of slavery under a foreign king, not so we could threaten the independence of our brothers & sisters in this new land, but so all could come to enjoy opportunity and liberty in good conscience.

    That’s the reason hundreds of thousands of Abolitionist children, whose families never owned slaves, marched South in 1861 to bleed and die to free good folks they never met and never would, and whose only reparation was the knowledge that our future children of all flavors would someday be born into a “more perfect union” of even greater liberty and opportunity, where we could become the family God’s Infinite Love made us to be.

    Slavery is the history and practice of every people in every part of the world. If you’re alive right now and reading this, it’s because some of your ancestors once took slaves, and some of your ancestors were enslaved, and it doesn’t matter whether your heredity is Polynesian or other Asian, Native American, European, African, Australian, or some combination: if you’re alive and reading this, you are the child of slavers and enslaved. That’s the history of the world, as wrong as it is, and it’s only in recent generations that anyone even thought this would change, with the rise of Democracy, self-government, and the first few governments that ended slavery, mostly in the Christian West starting 200 years ago, and starting with our own culture in the Anglo-sphere.

    Before that time, there were very few places on Earth throughout all of history where slavery wasn’t the norm, whether you called them slaves (literally, Slavic people meant “slaves” to the Ottoman Muslims), serfs, indentured servants, or criminalized forced labor (like many places in China today, where it’s illegal to be diverse or practice Falun Gong, and anyone with a low “social credit score” can have their organs or fetuses involuntarily harvested).

    Equity will be sorely missed? Like (cultural) gangrene, maybe~! 😂😜

    Dr. King believed in EQUALITY: everyone equal in the eyes of God (by Any Name) and each other, treated with equal Love and respect and great worth, equal in responsibilities and expectations, and with every human being judged by the content of their character alone, which is the opposite of “Equity”. Let’s keep our eyes on that prize, eh? That’s Love.

    Reply
  • D

    Dora ZapJan 29, 2024 at 8:15 pm

    Our founding fathers thought it was self-evident that we “are all created equal”. That means nobody gets special privileges. This was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. Giving one group advantages is illegal, unfair and counterproductive. It is divisive and causes different groups to hate each other.
    That’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be. Get used to it!

    Reply
    • A

      AngieJan 31, 2024 at 4:05 pm

      Unfortunately, Dora, I need to point out that our founding fathers also kept slaves (25 of the 55 at the Constitutional convention) at some time in their lives, so they didn’t all believe at the time that we were all created equal. Some changed their hearts and minds along the way, but not all. They believed that some “men” are created equal, and it has taken additional documents and Amendments to clarify that as our country evolves. DEI programs and offices exist to support a wide variety of staff, faculty and students. Support for Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino/a/x and international students who all face challenges can find support there. My reading in the reporting and from my own legislator’s comments in public town halls last weekend is that there is concern from a small group of constituents that believe they are excluded from getting support on campus through these offices. White students or staff who are LGBTQIA, or who need religious and cultural protection or support, women facing barriers, those who have physical or mental disabilities, all can find support there under the umbrella of DEI. I personally appreciate the free and frequent access on campus to educational programs, events, guest speakers, and roundtables that the office presents to bring us to better understanding of each other and how to support all our students and colleagues. Always optional and free to attend. This is something that will be sorely missed if this programming is removed from our campus community. Instead of gutting and erasing the names and historical importance of these offices and programs out of spite or fear, it would have been more productive for political leaders to sit down with the communities served (everyone) through these programs to air their concerns and request adjustments based on science and research, instead of making unresearched claims the center of the argument to dismantle the programs. I hope we can come out of this very painful moment better, together.

      Reply
  • J

    John HedbergJan 29, 2024 at 5:14 pm

    I grew up in an area slightly to the Left of San Francisco, so I’ve seen how policies advocated by The Chronic and other postulates of the Marxist/Equity hate-religion have turned out in the lived experiences of actual intersectional people, who’ve been more oppressed by Equity’s prophets than they ever were by whichever villains Equity orders them to hate-target this week “from the River to the Sea”. I’ve also been personally affected by them here in Utah, both on campus where tolerance is low (self-reflection, Andrew?) and discrimination has been rampant to the point of censorship here at The Chronic, and where I’ve frequently faced harassment, and even assault, but off campus as well, where Utahn grandparents were targeted for Race-murder by Equity’s medical S.S., who attempted to deny them life-saving COVID care by rationing critical COVID medicine according to genetics, which is something the Nazi’s were convicted of during the Nuremburg Trials 75 years ago, Crimes Against Humanity. These things tend to influence a person’s opinion, if you can imagine that~! 😋

    My viewpoints come from my experience, not from anonymously funded algorithms which require no more reflection than a missionary set loose with the latest fatwa eliciting shameful obedience to tired old re-tread Marxist dogmas that have killed tens of millions of innocent human beings across the planet throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st. But I feel your pain~! 🤪😂 You could try opening a book sometime and see if any less narcissistic viewpoints suggest themselves to you.

    This article reads, “It appears that, like I said last year, legislative attacks are really only supplemental to verbal ones, as a few words from elected leaders immediately have Taylor Randall and co. bowing down to the legislature.” Andrew, you personally told me that you were censoring my comments to several articles to The Chronic in the last few weeks, not because I violated any code of conduct, but simply because what I said disagreed with Equity’s more ‘refined’ feelings. As an intersectional BIPOC undergraduate here at the U, Equity shows me again and again that it has absolutely no problem suppressing the marginalized voices of anyone who disagrees with the feelings of this hate-religion. This was after I was reinstated from a year-long ban at The Chronic for complimenting a photo, which violated no policy, but it’s the nature of neo-Marxists to scream “oppression” anytime someone doesn’t greet the prejudices of their own bigotry and discrimination with adoration as they refuse to inclusively #Listen to diverse voices who disagree with their boutique hatreds, in flat denial of a ‘compassion’ which they never actually practice themselves.

    Diversity, EQUALITY, and Inclusion: never Equity! 😎

    Being treated with EQUALITY is to treat every human being with Love as children in God’s eyes (By Whatever Name), all equally fallible and forgivable, all equally beloved, the way a good parent Loves every child, which is how Dr. King preached the Gospel. Equity is nothing more than hatred looking for an excuse to vent itself, any excuse (clearly), but Equality is Loving everyone despite our inevitable errors and goofy imperfections, since children fall down constantly as we learn and grow into “a more perfect union” of habits, truths, attitudes, and culture which ever greater reflect the Love we receive as we mature, learn responsibilities which go along with this lived-Loved experience, and find common purpose in sharing the griefs as well as the joys of our transformative evolution in the way that God exemplifies it as a parent, through unfailing Love.

    We’re all fine, or we should be, by being and becoming exactly who we were created to be in this life. The Equity religion’s “clown car” owes us all an open apology for the endless empty fear, division, and hate-filled ugliness they rain on the rest of us, for all the needless hypocrisy and suffering they cause by their preferred discrimination and hatreds, and for never giving their “permission” for everyone to simply Love each person for who we are, which means their “church” would no longer have a reason for being. How sad! 😋

    To paraphrase Dr. King, “Darkness (Equity) cannot drive out darkness (prejudice); only Light can do that. Hatred (anti-racism) cannot drive out hatred (racism); only Love can do that”. Talk about “reinforcing racist attitudes”! No one is as racist, as sexist, as hetero-phobic, or as anti-religion as this Equity cult, itself a church “of discrimination, by discrimination, and for discrimination”, inclusive of zero compassion for individual diversity which doesn’t take a knee to worship Equity’s worst projected and pathologically narcissistic feelings and assumptions, even to the genocide of innocent marginalized voices “from the River to the Sea”.
    Who’s next on the Equity hit list? Could Equity’s priesthood possibly be greater hypocrites than they are?

    Cheerfully, with that Love which heals all of Equity’s egomaniacal divisions

    Reply