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OPINION

Diversity Training Disaster

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

All big American companies now require DEI training: diversity, equity and inclusion.

All big companies!

Really.

It sounds responsible. But it turns out DEI courses are often useless and sometimes racist.

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First comes groveling.

My new video about DEI shows a conference that begins with a "land acknowledgement." A Microsoft employee apologizes for taking land from "the Sammamish, the Duwamish, Snoqualmie, Suquamish, Muckleshoot" and more.

I guess it's a nice gesture. But they aren't giving the land back!

Companies go through the motions.

"They feel like they have to," says York College professor Erec Smith. "They have to signal to the world that they're doing something."

They hope it will protect them from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and lawsuits.

Smith was once a diversity officer. He left the position because he thought it was "useless."

Or worse. "It makes people less likely to interact with people unlike them," he says. "It's a minefield now."

At diversity trainings, employees learn about "microaggressions," speech that's subtly biased.

"If you ask somebody what they do for a living, somehow that's racist," says Smith. "If you learn that, then why would you take a chance? ... 'I'm going to silence myself' ... not talk to Black people."

A Coca-Cola diversity training tells employees, "Be less white." "Being white" includes being "oppressive, arrogant, defensive, ignorant."

"That is by no means a white thing," says Smith. "The point is to demonize the other side."

Worst of all, despite the $3 billion spent on DEI training by American companies today, DEI trainings don't do what they're supposed to do.

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A Harvard professor analyzed studies of them and says, "Sadly enough, I did not find one single study which found that diversity training leads to more diversity."

A different Harvard Business Review study analyzed data from 800 companies and found that five years after diversity training, the share of Black women managers decreased by 9%.

"It is not about data," says Smith. "It's about a power grab."

One that starts in schools.

Smith attended a conference of rhetoric professors where the conference leader, Asao Inoue, declared it racist to grade students on traditional English.

"If you use a single standard to grade your students' languaging, you engage in racism. ... White language supremacy."

Smith sent a group email in response, saying it's a disservice to minority kids not to teach standard English. Instead of addressing Smith's point, other professors attacked him, calling him racist.

"Do you enjoy using Western modes of argument to invalidate people of color?" "I hope for the day that folks like you will learn how to check their privilege."

"We are professors in communication," Smith told me. "I thought we could communicate. I was so wrong. ... They saw in me a threat. ... a Black person saying it's OK to teach Black students standardized English."

An academic named Eve accused Smith of "perpetuating harm." Other academics joined in to praise the "tremendous labor" Eve spent writing the email.

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"They're victims!" I say, bewildered.

"That's the point," Smith responds. "Perpetuate the victimhood."

"This isn't even logical! Has academia gone insane?" I ask.

Smith laughs. "Yes, it has gone insane."

Today some sensible people are pushing back. Education reformer Chris Rufo proposes a DEI alternative called "EMC." EMC stands for equality, merit and colorblindness.

Sounds good to me, but woke college activists say "colorblindness" is evil because it denies that racism exists.

"Merit" is bad because the way it's measured must be biased, because the results show racial disparity.

This is why some colleges have dropped admission tests and why many high schools eliminated honors classes.

"If you wanted to hold down a group of people," says Smith, "... this 'woke' thing is a good strategy."

The achievement gap between Black and white students has been widening lately.

A better solution, says Smith, is to ignore the censors. Debate.

"People don't say what they feel because they don't want to get canceled, get called racist. People are censoring. We have to stop doing that."

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