UNC System Board of Governor’s member Woody White recently proposed repealing, across the state’s public universities, all DEI policy and regulatory regimens that were enacted in 2019 and replacing them with measures and ideologies that actually protect equality and inclusion for all people — not just one class or classes of certain people. 

White is right on this one, and his idea should be expanded to include the abolishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that resulted from the passage of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Let’s face it — the well-intended measures of our past to protect the underprivileged are outdated. We live in an America that affords every citizen equal opportunity to achieve any desired goal imagined. 

“Underprivileged” is a term that must be reexamined and redefined. 

The issues facing our nation impact all Americans. The impact of an issue may vary based on a range of socioeconomic factors. Those factors should increase our willingness to work closer together as opposed to further apart. 

DEI efforts across the nation were gradual responses to what many saw as injustices towards minorities perpetrated by the questionable acts of a few whites. As DEI initiatives were rolled out, few people questioned the integrity of protecting one class of people at the expense of another. DEI grew into a revised model of affirmative action and offered an allocation of resources to enhance and favor groups deemed as victims of a cruel society. The unfortunate conclusion is that our nation bought into an ideology that inflamed and nurtured the divide between minorities, mostly blacks, and white America. 

DEI initiatives were implemented in many aspects of our government-funded agencies. The most visible funding was seen in colleges and universities across the nation. My observation is that DEI became a means to promote hostile and divisive movements on college campuses. Black Lives Matter was among the beneficiaries of DEI. Students were empowered to engage in behaviors that compromised campus safety and threatened the welfare of innocent students whose only intent was to earn a college education. 

In December of 2020, while managing the Pender County NAACP, I publicly supported former UNCW Chancellor Dr. Jose Sartarelli when he denied the display of a BLM mural on campus. Of interest to me was that the meetings and organization for these campus rallies and BLM movements were taking place in DEI-funded facilities and departments. It further interested me that liberal faculty members failed to acknowledge the hostility and divisiveness brought on by displaying symbols that promote superiority of one race over another. For this reason I recently supported the New Hanover County Board of Education in its decision to limit the display of symbols in district schools. I think we will all agree that adults bear the responsibility to protect our children and students.

 Like affirmative action and other race-driven initiatives, DEI developed into a subtle way of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” In that, we consciously and unconsciously take away the rights and protections of one class in order to assure that the designated weaker class is protected. 

In May of 2013, while as the president of the Cleveland County NAACP branch, I received backlash from constituents for publicly defending the rights of the KKK to recruit new members in the area. I endured hours of backroom pressure from local and state NAACP officials to retract my statements published in the local media. 

I got it then and I get it now — the KKK is deemed a hate group, and to support anything about the KKK is frowned upon. My contention was that they are Americans, and in America we have guaranteed rights. I held firm that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” What we have experienced with DEI initiatives is the subtle move to protect one class by imposing injustices on another class.

We may be disgusted by the actions of others and weary of those perceived to be bad actors. But the America that we live in embraces a constitutional guarantee that “no person or group will be denied the protection under the law that is enjoyed by similar persons or groups.” 

So, thank you, Woody White, for your insight, your reasoning, and your support for abolishing DEI initiatives.