“America may soon be subjected to the country’s first DEI president: Kamala Harris,” screamed a headline in The New York Post on Saturday, penned by Fox Business senior correspondent Charles Gasparino. This op-ed launched an attack on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, describing them as “literally destroying businesses,” and aimed its ire directly at Vice President Kamala Harris, insinuating that her rise to power was due to her race and gender rather than her qualifications.

The Misguided DEI Narrative

Gasparino’s op-ed suggested that Harris only ascended to her current position due to diversity initiatives, a notion that is both despicable and rooted in the white supremacist myth that people of color are inherently inferior. This myth perpetuates the falsehood that achievements by individuals of color are only possible through preferential treatment, not merit. This line of attack is nothing new and has been used by others to demean successful people of color. For example, GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado recently labeled White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as a “discredited DEI hire” in a social media post.

Historical and Ongoing Attacks

This derogatory use of “DEI hire” to undermine people of color’s achievements isn’t isolated. Earlier this year, after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore’s Black mayor Brandon Scott was similarly smeared. In response, Scott pointed out that these detractors often wish they could use overtly racist language. Similarly, in February, after a special election in New York, Trump ally GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz dismissed a Republican candidate’s defeat by blaming it on DEI, implying that diversity is a liability rather than a strength.

Kamala Harris’s Proven Track Record

These attacks ignore Harris’s extensive record of public service. Before becoming Vice President, Harris served as San Francisco’s district attorney, California’s attorney general, and a U.S. Senator. Her tenure in these roles was marked by significant achievements, such as securing billions of dollars in damages from businesses exploiting Californians. Her service on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees in the Senate further cemented her reputation as a capable and effective leader.

The Broader GOP Strategy

Gasparino’s op-ed reflects a broader strategy by some Republicans to discredit DEI efforts and the accomplishments of people of color. This tactic has been increasingly evident as GOP-led legislatures push to restrict or outlaw DEI programs in various sectors. These actions echo the hostility of former President Donald Trump, who in 2020 signed an executive order banning federal entities and contractors from offering diversity training on racial issues. Trump’s rhetoric, which framed “Black Lives Matter” as a “symbol of hate,” set the tone for these ongoing attacks.

The Fight for Racial Equity

Despite these efforts to undermine DEI initiatives, the movement towards greater equity and inclusion gained momentum after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide protests. Americans began to recognize the deep-rooted issues of racism and discrimination, leading to the implementation of DEI programs aimed at addressing these injustices.

The Future of DEI and Racial Equity

The disparagement of Kamala Harris and other successful people of color as mere “DEI hires” is a clear attempt to undermine the progress made in addressing racial inequalities. These attacks serve as a reminder of the persistent bigotry that still exists. As Trump and others continue to rail against DEI, it’s crucial to understand that these programs and the achievements of individuals like Harris are essential steps towards a fairer and more just society.

Calling Kamala Harris a “DEI hire” is not just an insult to her accomplishments but also a broader attack on the efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable America. This bigotry must be recognised for what it is and countered with the truth about the value and necessity of diversity in our society. The achievements of people like Harris are a testament to their hard work and dedication, not to the color of their skin or the boxes they check.

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