Diversity officer for Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin raised a few eyebrows at a mandatory faculty training held at the Virginia Military Academy. He invoked the name of Jesus and spoke in reverent prayer, slamming equity.
Martin D. Brown, the Youngkin administration’s chief diversity officer, said in an auditorium at VMI on April 21 that DEI is “dead.” Let’s kill this cow right now. Brown announced that DEI was dead. Brown said, “We won’t be bringing up that cow anymore.” It’s dead.”
Brown was particularly critical of the concept of equity. He explained that equity keeps people from achieving the noble goals of “merit, excellence or achievement,” and instead focuses them on “equal results.” Brown encouraged his VMI listeners to fight for equality in the face of inequality. Brown insisted that VMI was in a special place. “… “You’ve served our country by sending warriors into battle, and in a sense, you’re also at the top of the spear for this cultural war.”
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Colonel Bill Wyatt expressed his enthusiasm after the speech for future collaborations with Brown. In a press release, he stated that VMI appreciated the time Chief Brown spent at his post last week. “We look to continue our collaboration with his office.”
Others were more critical. Unidentified VMI faculty said, “This mandatory meeting was a waste.” Faculty have a job. Another person said, “It’s our job to teach students how to have difficult discussions with different people.” We’re an institution of higher education and we must do that. We went to DEI to learn how to better do our jobs, but instead were told that DEI was dead.
The Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira who reported the speech first, made note of Brown’s “prayer to Jesus”, and his repeated references to God and “our Creator.” Shapira said that Brown’s religious language was “angry” for some people.
The VA NAACP, outraged at Brown’s speech, which focused on civility and “living by the golden rule,” called for Brown’s resignation. The statement from the VA NAACP reads: “Last Week, Mr. Brown delivered a speech to faculty members at the Virginia Military Institute which denounces precepts and goals of the office he holds.” The speech was full of partisan talking points, erroneous assumption and showed Mr. Brown’s inability to perform the critical position he holds.
It is possible that the group misunderstood Brown’s professional office. The office was established by Youngkin’s former governor, Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who wore blackface in the past, is no longer the leader of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Brown’s address reflected this shift in focus.
Brown wrote later in a press release that “diversity, opportunity and inclusion are the keys to every successful institution.” It’s been proven that diverse and inclusive workplaces help institutions to achieve greater success. Equity has been sacrificed in the name of excellence.
Brown said, “Our goal is to increase opportunities but we cannot guarantee equal results.”