Black and Latino politicians criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent order to Texas institutions and state agencies to eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion employment standards.
At a press conference Tuesday morning at the state Capitol, lawmakers in the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Texas NAACP, and faith leaders across the state called the governor’s claim that DEI policies are illegal a “lie” and a “diversion” from addressing Texans’ issues.
They also urged the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA to postpone championship games until the governor reverses his guidance to agencies and colleges. Lawmakers accused Abbott of using people of color to compete with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to be the most “Trumpian” politician.
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“We will not be involved in his attempt to utilize minorities as puppets for his political game,” said Texas Legislative Black Caucus chair state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City.
Rafael Anchia tweeted about the matter from his official tweeter account. You can see the tweet below.
Abbott’s chief of staff, Gardner Pate, told state agencies on Feb. 6 that diversity, equity, and inclusion policies used to screen or vet job candidates are prohibited and that agency heads have a “responsibility” to uphold the law. Since then, labor and civil rights advocates have complained the governor’s office mischaracterizes anti-discrimination statutes.
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated that abolishing “discriminatory diversity, equity and inclusion rules in higher education” is one of his legislative goals.
Reynolds termed these aims stupid and appealing to a far-right Republican base.
Speaking Against Restricting Diversity In Hiring
Reynolds called them anti-Black, anti-Asian, and anti-LGBTQ. “They’re slapping us in the face and saying you’re not welcome anymore.”
Diversity, equity, and inclusion policies help workplaces, government agencies, and colleges boost representation and promote fair treatment of previously discriminated groups. DEI policies can help underrepresented populations like veterans, LGBTQ individuals, and persons with disabilities. Setting diversity goals or thresholds for recruiting can assure varied candidate pools.
“These offices don’t exist to be discriminatory against white people,” said state Rep. Sheryl Cole, D-Austin. “They cultivate, acknowledge, engage, and enhance diverse communities because variety is our strength.”
After a conservative advocacy group challenged the biology department for rating job candidates’ diversity and inclusion efforts, Texas Tech University conducted a university-wide hiring review.
Most Texas university and state agency executives have kept quiet about the governor’s letter. Chancellor Renu Khator called the letter a “reminder” to follow state and federal law. Reynolds claimed state higher education executives are hesitant to speak out on the topic and have sent him texts saying they appreciate the caucus’ support of diversity.
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“They feel that they’ll be the target and may lose their job or funding,” he said.
Republican leaders have argued that higher education indoctrinates liberal politics. The governor’s edict is the latest example. Pate wrote that DEI regulations improperly discriminate against particular demographic groups and “proactively promote discrimination in the workplace.”
The 1964 Civil Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, outlawed employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, and national origin at a period when Black Americans were excluded from higher-paying jobs and other opportunities.
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