On Sept. 22, Donald Trump issued an executive order to combat race and sex stereotyping in the workplace. While some may view this as him turning over a new leaf, the order is riddled with irony that only substantiates claims made against his character and principles.
Despite the promising title, the president’s language suggests that we must ignore our nation’s history with racism in order to foster effective change. Trump stated that “this ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors.” In an attempt to redress what he perceives to be the root of the problem, the president has banned federal agencies from conducting diversity training that condones stereotyping or scapegoating.
Ironically, the order itself stereotypes the values of training proponents and restricts what can be taught, even if the information is rooted in the reality of our past. Educating workers on types of discrimination, such as institutionalized racism, is prohibited through this order, despite the impact these terrible systems have had, and still have, on marginalized groups.
Trump claims that this sort of learning will only label people as oppressors on account of the color of their skin, but it’s ignorant of the president to turn a blind eye to America’s racist roots and to claim that educating our people will fuel a reverse racism.
Not only is his perception ignorant, but it's also counter progressive. Instead of acknowledging the oppression of marginalized groups, Trump is more concerned with how white people are being portrayed in the eyes of those who maneuver a broken system that we created.
One can only assume this executive order is an appeal to the “All Lives Matter” protesters who make up the base of Trump supporters. While some may be able to appreciate the sentiment, this belief inadvertently lets minority groups know that their lives don’t matter as much as. Years of oppression and discrimination, whether it be forthright or unconscious, is a call for redress and a reinstatement of natural liberties. By arguing that we should feel sorry for the historically-common oppressor, we ignore necessary reparations needed for the systemic racism that has plagued our nation for decades. Trump’s executive order only helps affirm the fact that certain races are given more privilege and opportunity as a result of this biased system.
Because this executive order targets institutions that affiliate themselves with the federal government, some universities, such as NC State, could be at risk of adhering to these regulations. There are multiple instances in which the University could be affected.
If NC State were to enter an agreement with the federal government or receive grant funding from the federal government, the University would have to abide by these limitations in diversity training. Some students already view the current diversity training at NC State as ineffective and counteractive, so an adherence to this new executive order would only fuel a growing distaste for the program. Institutions have until Nov. 21 to revise their contracts with the government in order to reassess their training procedures and potentially make any other necessary changes.
Fortunately, the order does not directly affect the realm of educating students in class, but it does beg the question of how this order will be interpreted in the future. If Joe Biden takes office in January, I believe it’s necessary for him to overturn this executive order in order to effectively acknowledge our nation's troubled history and to hold government agencies accountable for understanding the origins of racism in the United States.
To be honest, I didn’t even know that this executive order was issued until a couple weeks ago, and I think it’s a real issue that it’s not gaining more attention. Promoting a system that blatantly ignores underlying bias and instead focuses its attention on the people who are considered oppressors serves no purpose in this country other than to distract us from the real issues at hand.
I believe the aim of this executive order is to regulate conversation and, in turn, undermine a movement that has, unfortunately, seen a lack of attention in recent months. This is a conversation we should be having, and we should also be fighting to ensure that our right to speak out on the issue and identify the root of the problem are protected.