DEI in Retreat—But Could Morph Into New Indoctrination and Discrimination

DEI in Retreat—But Could Morph Into New Indoctrination and Discrimination

A job seeker speaks with job recruiters during the Professional and Executive Diversity Job Fair at an Embassy Suites hotel in Los Angeles on Nov. 13, 2012. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Wenyuan Wu

Wenyuan Wu

1/31/2024

Updated: 2/5/2024

Commentary
Even California’s progressive establishment can’t keep up with the “woke” antics of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) when faced with growing public scrutiny and projected budget deficits. Will they truly change their ways? Or is it just a veneer to appease voters and taxpayers?
In mid-January, Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick handed the Carlsbad City Council an internal memo for budget cuts, proposing the elimination of the city’s chief innovation officer and senior DEI program manager positions, among others, according to journalist Steve Puterski. This new spending plan, which most likely will be adopted, is crafted in anticipation of a looming $4.5 million structural deficit by fiscal year 2028–29.
At about the same time, the City of Encinitas—Carlsbad’s neighbor in San Diego’s North County—made a surprising move against a state-initiated housing equity proposal. On Jan. 17, the Encinitas City Council, consisting of a Democratic supermajority, held a public meeting to discuss a consultant-produced study on reducing “barriers to racial and ethnic equity” in the local housing market. After hearing a barrage of public comments from concerned residents opposing embedding the woke ideology in city policies, the council voted unanimously to not adopt the study’s recommendations on hiring a DEI coordinator and assembling a DEI advisory group.
These local developments dovetail with an emerging national trend of downsizing DEI programs in corporate settings. A recent study of more than 600 companies found that DEI officers at these companies had a 33 percent attrition rate by the end of 2022. Idealogues blame the hiatus on institutional racism. Others say good riddance. Still, some believe that the multibillion-dollar industry is undergoing a rebranding, through which the same type of identity-politics-crazed programs are promoted under innocent euphemisms such as “culture surveys” and “performance trainings.”
Although negative public receptions, along with damages to the business bottom line, have contributed to a decline in DEI activities, the doctrine of using race, ethnicity, and other group characteristics to divide Americans in workplaces, schools, and communities is still well and alive. In fact, die-hard fans are becoming more adept at concealing their intent to divide, discriminate, thought-police, and ultimately profit from institutionalizing the ideology in innovative ways.
ACA 7, a 2023 constitutional amendment authored by Sacramento Democrats, intends to circumvent California’s constitutional ban on preferential treatment in public employment, public education, and public contracting on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as enacted by Proposition 209. An earlier attempt—Proposition 16—to repeal Prop. 209, billed as a measure to allow diversity, was resolutely rejected by 57.2 percent of California voters in 2020. That colossal failure inspired a new class of woke state lawmakers to propose an exemption mechanism instead of a blanket repeal. They want to trick the public as if it is only “a narrow exception.”
Students hoping for a repeal of California's Proposition 209 hold signs outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Feb. 13, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Students hoping for a repeal of California's Proposition 209 hold signs outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Feb. 13, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to ACA 7, the governor can authorize research-based or research-informed exemptions to the state’s prohibition on government preferences. To exempt any public entity from observing Prop. 209 and upholding equality, the governor only needs to put a stamp of approval on research that justifies equitable “interventions” for the purpose of “increasing the life expectancy of, improving educational outcomes for, or lifting out of poverty specific groups.” Simply put, politicians will be able to authorize exceptions to our long-held tradition of equal justice so long as some type of research can be conjured up. Considering how easily research can be hijacked and weaponized to promote politics, the exception will surely swallow the rule.
Not surprisingly, ACA 7 has already passed the state assembly and is waiting for committee assignment in the state Senate. If approved by the Senate, which is highly likely given the chamber’s Democratic supermajority, the proposal will end up on the 2024 ballot.
As the California Legislature resumes work this spring, woke state lawmakers are ready to push through a slew of bills to perpetuate the DEI scheme. AB 1919, sponsored by Assemblywoman Dr. Akilah Weber, daughter of the California secretary of state and coauthor of ACA 7, urges the State Department of Education to follow through with its pledge to provide evidence-based restorative justice practice in K–12 classrooms. SB 959 enhances the Equity in Higher Education Act by designating a list of employees at state higher education institutions as a point of contact “for the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender faculty, staff, and students at the respective campus.”
Among the batch of equity-themed bills introduced in the first half of the 2023–24 legislative session, many have advanced out of the original house of the Legislature and may be signed into law as soon as September 2024. For instance, AB 1198 proposes that the governor set up a task force to address inequities in the energy industry through “education and outreach” targeting “disadvantaged communities.” The bill passed the Assembly in May 2023 and has already been approved by two senate committees. Ms. Weber’s AB 1701, pending in the state Senate, recommended that the state expand the Black Infant Health Program under the California Perinatal Equity Initiative to increase advocacy and empowerment for black women only.
DEI is also in the marijuana business, with SB 51, introduced by state Sen. Steven Bradford to authorize the Department of Cannabis Control to issue provisional licenses for local equity applicants, becoming law after the governor approved it in October 2023. According to the bill, the pivot to accommodate “equity applicants” is necessary to include and support “individuals and communities in California’s cannabis industry who are linked to populations or neighborhoods that were negatively or disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.”
The establishment is not slowing down on its DEI gambit. The public should take notice and keep up the ongoing efforts to confront the rotten ideology that has unfortunately become our cultural orthodoxy.
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Wenyuan Wu

Wenyuan Wu

Author

Wenyuan Wu holds a doctorate in international studies from the University of Miami and is the executive director of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. Wu’s recent advocacy has focused on combatting critical race theory in American public life. She has given expert testimony in various state legislature hearings on the topic and helped launched the website RejectCRT.org. She writes for Minding the Campus of the National Association of Scholars and sits on the board of Parents Defending Education Action.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.