President Trump is moving to revamp federal agencies’ racial sensitivity trainings, casting some of them as “divisive” and “un-American,” according to a memo by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The memo, released on Friday, also tells all federal agencies to identify and if possible cancel contracts that involve teaching that America is an “inherently racist or evil country.”
“The President has directed me to ensure that federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions,” the memo states.
Parts of the memo were carefully worded, but Trump went several steps further in describing his actions in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday morning.
Trump responded “Not any more!” to one person’s tweet, which read “critical race theory is the greatest threat to western civilization and it’s made its way into the US federal government, the military, and the justice system.”
He reposted roughly 20 more Twitter messages from conservative media or other accounts praising his new move.
In the memo, Vought writes that “it has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.”
He then refers to press reports that say federal employees “have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.’ ”
It could not immediately be learned what training sessions Vought was referring to in the memo. Recent Fox News segments have heavily criticized “diversity and inclusion” efforts in the federal government started under the Obama administration.
“It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government,” Chris Rufo, research fellow at the right-wing Discovery Institute, told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson earlier this week.
Other experts say racial and diversity awareness trainings are essential steps in helping rectify the pervasive racial inequities in American society, including those perpetuated by the federal government. Several studies have found federal contracts are disproportionately awarded to white-owned businesses. In 2017, a study by the Minority Business Development Agency found a dwindling over two decades in contracts for minority-owned businesses, according to NPR.
OMB said it would soon issue more guidance on curtailing these training sessions. An administration official said the order has already gone into effect: Such a training on “class biases” scheduled for Friday was postponed. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details about a postponed session.
Racial awareness trainings can help officials realize unconscious bias in the awarding of contracts from the federal government, the country’s largest employer, said M.E. Hart, an attorney who has given hundreds of diversity training sessions for businesses and the federal government for more than 20 years.
The racial sensitivity trainings can improve morale and cooperation in the workplace, and by increasing the diversity of perspectives, ultimately improve overall efficiency, Hart said.
“If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise — ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — we have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible,” Hart said. “These classes have been very powerful in allowing people to do that, and we need them more than ever. There’s danger here.”
The OMB memo later says that “the President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.” It was first reported by RealClearPolitics.
The memo comes after Trump has put himself at the center of intense national debates about race, police tactics, the Civil War and the Confederate flag. Democrats have long taken aim at Trump’s comments about race, including his false assertion that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
And this year, as numerous Black Lives Matter protests occurred around the country after police officers killed or shot Black Americans, Trump has sharply criticized social justice protesters and called for law enforcement to crack down.
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