Updated Sep 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pushes to expand ban against anti-racism training to federal contractors

Trump speaking at Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 22.

Trump speaking at Moon Township, Penns., on Sept. 22. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced late Tuesday that the White House attempt to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training would be expanded to block federal contractors from "promoting radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

Why it matters: The executive order appears to give the government the ability to cancel contracts if anti-racist or diversity trainings focused on sexual identity or gender are organized. The memo applies to executive departments and agencies, the U.S. military, federal contractors and federal grant recipients.

Details: The White House said its order would "prohibit Federal agencies and Federal contractors from conducting training that promotes race stereotyping, for example, by portraying certain races as oppressors by virtue of their birth."

  • The memo denounces "blame-focused diversity training" and "race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating" while acknowledging that "training employees to create an inclusive workplace is appropriate and beneficial."
  • The president tweeted: "Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!"

The big picture: Trump signed an order last week to "promote patriotic education" through an effort called the 1776 Commission, while denouncing a New York Times' project that investigated the impacts of racial injustice for Black Americans done largely at the hands of white people, who have historically oppressed racial minorities in the U.S.

The memo specifically targets the teaching "divisive concepts" that include:

  • The idea that one race or sex is superior.
  • The U.S. is fundamentally racist or sexist.
  • That individual should feel "discomfort, guilt, anguish" or physiological distress because of their race or sex.
  • That an individual bears responsibility for past actions by others of the same race or sex.

What they're saying: ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, said in an emailed statement, "Our country needs to acknowledge and reckon with its history of systemic racism and racial discrimination. Instead, the Trump Administration is leading with ignorance and moving to ban training that could help address the issue. This is an attack on the fight for racial justice."  

Editor's note: This article has been updated with ACLU's comment.

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