Virginia state official Martin Brown is the latest reminder that DEI—“diversity, equity, and inclusion”—is a sham, a strategy to force systemic change and not to encourage equality, participation by all, or ideological diversity.
“DEI is dead,” Brown said last week, and the keepers of the orthodoxy started calling for his head.
Brown, chief diversity, opportunity, and inclusion officer in the administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, is black.
His views, however, are the wrong hue. So he doesn’t add diversity and must be excluded.
“Let’s take a moment right now to kill that cow,” Brown said of the Left’s DEI agenda during a speech at Virginia Military Institute. “We’re not going to bring that cow up anymore. It’s dead. It was mandated by the General Assembly, but this governor has a different philosophy of civil discourse.”
Diversity, said Brown, is the “wrong mission.” Obsessing about equity means “you’re not pursuing merit or excellence or achievement.”
Judging from the outraged cry of the Left, one would think that photos revealing racist behavior were revealed—as happened with former Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, who created Virginia’s DEI office to make his photo scandal go away. (Youngkin, Northam’s successor, is a Republican.)
The Washington Post reported Brown’s speech in a contentious piece that clearly was intended to damage him. After that, the Virginia NAACP, the Virginia Black Caucus at the General Assembly, the Virginia Latino Caucus, the Virginia Asian-American Caucus, the head of the Virginia African American Advisory Board, and the former speaker of the House of Delegates, all called for Youngkin to fire Brown.
State Sen. Lamont Bagby, a Democrat, captured the mood when he said of Brown: “It was appalling. It’s evident that he doesn’t appreciate his role, and it’s time for him to make it official and offer his resignation.”
These kinds of testimonials should reassure Youngkin that Brown is flying over the target. The governor should send him on further sorties.
DEI, like its sister abbreviations critical race theory (CRT) and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), is a strategy concocted by leftists to achieve regime change. What they want to change is the American constitutional order: capitalism, representative democracy, and the American legal system.
Everyday Americans, however, have risen in opposition. This is why governors, legislatures, county boards, and city councils are passing a spate of measures defanging these strategies nationwide. Youngkin himself was a harbinger of this insurrection; he was elected in November 2021 on the back of parental opposition to critical race theory in Virginia schools.
Kimberle Crenshaw, an academic who helped design critical race theory in the 1980s, became the latest of the leading lights of the movement to decry this opposition. As she complained to Politico last week, “There’s been a three-year assault on anti-racism,” another term the Left often uses for their strategy.
In further admission that these approaches are unpopular, Crenshaw also groused that she had heard that President Joe Biden will walk away from them as he runs for reelection in 2024.
“We’ve already heard that the approach is not to claim the mantle of ‘wokeness.’ The approach is to focus on jobs, the approach is to focus on pocketbook issues,” she said of Biden’s strategy.
Regardless of whether this issue surfaces prominently in the 2024 campaigns, the Biden administration has spent its entire time in office enforcing these orthodoxies through policy.
Brown is right to take a stand against the Left’s attempted revolution. In the case of DEI in particular, all three terms (diversity, equity, and inclusion) have been corrupted, as Brown’s treatment makes clear.
Diversity is not at all about diversity. It is not about putting people of all racial, ethnic, and sexual categories in positions of authority so that their “lived experience” could guide their actions. Brown’s “lived experience” need not apply, according to the Left, because he refuses to fall in line with their ideologies.
Equity is the absolute worst corruption. It means that government should go back to treating Americans differently because of their race—and Vice President Kamala Harris has been crystal clear on this point.
Inclusion, meanwhile, means mall cops kicking out people shopping while wearing shirts that feature Jesus, or guards at the Smithsonian telling children to remove hats with pro-life messages. It also means excluding Brown because he ran afoul of the new language codes.
Northam appointed a head of DEI in September 2019, after college photos of him in blackface came out, and the Virginia General Assembly codified the move in April 2020.
Ideally, Youngkin and the General Assembly should change the law and abolish the office. In the meantime, it’s good to have courageous people such as Martin Brown speaking truth to power.
This commentary originally appeared in the Washington Examiner
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