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Opinion | Hate thy neighbor, Alabama

DEI programs seek only to make a historically-slanted field a tad more level. That’s too much for those benefitting from that inequality.

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On Monday, a day before Alabama lawmakers passed a ban on diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state colleges, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office tweeted out a photo of the governor meeting with the Business Council of Alabama president and other “key business leaders” from around the state. 

The BCA president is Helena Duncan, a Black woman. The other “key” leaders were 11 white men. 

This was not an anomaly. 

There is no minority person serving in any statewide office in Alabama. There are no Black judges on the state Supreme Court. There is one Black judge of the 10 appellate judges serving in the state, and he was appointed last month. 

Of the 23 people in Ivey’s cabinet, three are Black. One of those is the head of the Office of Minority Affairs, which somehow survived the state whitewashing. 

Do you think any of that is an accident? That it came about naturally – that in a state with a 25-percent Black population we just don’t have the qualified Black candidates to fill any of those positions? 

Or does it have more to do with the reality and history of race and race relations in this state? 

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These are the questions that DEI programs ask people to consider. These are the questions that are answered by the teaching of those “divisive concepts” that the legislature has asked to be banned, too. 

And we can’t have that kind of understanding around here. 

Because, see, when you better understand your neighbors, it makes it so much harder to hate them. It makes it so much harder to believe ignorant stereotypes and really racist generalizations. 

It makes it so much harder to get working class white people to buy into the outrage-of-the-day excuse to fear minorities and not notice that the legislation screwing over the Black guy is also screwing them over. 

I mean, do you know what would happen around here if for a few months working white folks realized they have far more in common with their Black coworkers than they ever have with the elite ruling class? I’ll tell you: some of the mediocre white dudes holding those offices I mentioned earlier would have to get real jobs. 

When you boil down all of the whining and fear mongering over DEI, that’s the real issue here. That some white people who were born midway between third-base and home would be exposed for the over privileged frauds they are. 

This state is filled with vest-wearing Chets and Tanners who were born into generational wealth and legacy entry into top schools who love giving boot-strap sermons to Black folks whose grandparents were drinking from the Blacks-only fountain, whose parents couldn’t get a home loan or a job interview because their names sounded too Black and who were denied entry to top colleges because they weren’t X-school material. 

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And these same golden spoon-fed jackasses are now aghast that someone had the audacity to attempt to even explain the disparities. To address some of the historical unfairness. 

To suggest that, hey, maybe it might be beneficial to our students to embrace a diverse campus, so they might learn from each other, so that the communities could intermingle and become familiar, so that some of the mystery that breeds ignorance could be overcome. 

Because somehow, in their minds, it wasn’t enough that a stolen Supreme Court said a Black kid whose family couldn’t pay for SAT tutors and prep courses and the best technology and all the advantages is “stealing” the college spot of a white kid who did have all of those advantages. No, no. We also need to forbid these same colleges from telling kids about that reality or working to ensure it doesn’t continue.

But the kids know. 

At campuses all over the state, there have been protests of what the Alabama Legislature did on Tuesday. They’ve signed petitions. They’ve rallied for their teachers and their peers. They’ve taken a stand. 

Hopefully, they’ve also learned that those DEI programs would never disadvantage them, no matter their skin color. That they sought only to make a completely tilted playing field just slightly more level, simply by raising awareness to the issues and working towards solutions that made things more fair for all of us. 

In reality, those DEI programs, through understanding and shared experiences, moved us at least a little closer to loving our neighbors. 

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But for far too many in our ruling class, it’s a whole lot better for them if people keep hating skin color and petty differences.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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