How to Dismantle the Anti-DEI Machine
February 8, 2024
Free speech on campus, book bans, education gag orders, the overturn of affirmative action, the resignation of former Harvard president Claudine Gay. All of these issues center on one hot-button topic: DEI.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has become a staple in national vocabulary after the so-called “racial reckoning” of 2020 brought demands for racial justice to the top of institutional priorities. From schools to Fortune 500 companies to the film industry, DEI efforts had a steady surge…until they didn’t.
The burgeoning anti-DEI movement, also coined the “war on woke,” has gone from a once-fringe conservative crusade to a political machine. Already this year, about three dozen bills restricting DEI efforts, like critical race theory, have been proposed in states across the country, with more likely to emerge. Need we again mention the overturn of affirmative action? But how did we go from a public seemingly-committed to DEI to one that denounces it in the span of just a few years?
Joining us to help answer this question are Alvin B. Tillery, professor of political science at Northwestern University and director of the university’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, and Leah Watson, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. Together, we’ll trace the rise of the anti-DEI machine and its political ramifications for the year to come.
For more context on the ACLU’s litigation efforts against education gag orders, check out Leah’s law review article: https://journals.law.harvard.edu/crcl/wp-content/uploads/sites/80/2023/09/HLC208_Watson.pdf