VMI Woke Agenda

‘DEI is dead’: At VMI, Youngkin’s diversity chief slams diversity, equity, inclusion

It’s great and very encouraging that Virginia’s chief diversity and opportunity (not equity) officer, Martin Brown (bio) spoke truths to professors and staff at the Virginia Military Institute, but the Washington Post is not happy. Based on the people at VMI they talked to for this article, it looks like the Woke Mind Virus is infecting VMI, but hopefully not everyone there has succumbed.  Because this article is behind a paywall, we’ll excerpt highlights:

Virginia’s chief diversity officer was blunt. He took the stage Friday at Virginia Military Institute — a college embroiled in a tense debate over racism, sexism and diversity reforms — and slammed the whole concept of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Let’s take a moment right now to kill that cow. DEI is dead,” said Martin D. Brown, who was appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) in November.

“We’re not going to bring that cow up anymore. It’s dead. It was mandated by the General Assembly, but this governor has a different philosophy of civil discourse, civility, treating — living the golden rule, right?”

Brown, a Black Republican who is a former Heritage Foundation fellow and worked for two prior GOP governors, was the featured speaker at a mandatory annual “inclusive excellence” training for VMI’s faculty and staff members. VMI recorded the speech and made it available after The Post asked to see it.

The freewheeling talk — which Brown kicked off with a prayer to Jesus and laced with mentions of “our Creator” and “God” — angered some of the people who attended.

“Other colleges have had DEI embedded at their schools for a long time, but at VMI, it’s new and not fully supported by alumni and staff,” said one professor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “It’s a place where you can stomp it out. Multiple people I spoke with afterwards were outraged. They were concerned about our students, our minority groups. How is this going to impact them? They’re already struggling even with the current diversity push.” . . . .

“VMI’s in a unique space. You’ve been at the tip of the spear in serving our country in sending warriors to battle, but in a way, you’re at the tip of the spear in this cultural war as well. Generally, when you are focusing on equity, you’re not pursuing merit or excellence or achievement.” –Martin Brown

. . . . Brown said that pursuing diversity for its own sake is flawed.

What we’ve done is we’ve made diversity the mission. Wrong mission. The challenge is keeping your eyes on the mission rather than the attendant challenges that we experience trying to complete the mission,” Brown said.

“And when we focus on those challenges, what happens is the mission is undermined … One of the things we want to focus on is whatever the goal of the organization is, that goal is paramount, and diversity and inclusion supports whatever the goal is.” . . . .

. . . . In interviews with The Post, a half-dozen faculty and staff members said it felt like Brown was repeating right-wing political talking points, denigrating “equity” without any evidence, and dismissing the very premise of his job — diversity.

They also were disturbed that he began a training session at a public college with a Christian prayer, invoking the name of Jesus; and his repeated praising of his boss, Youngkin, who is scheduled to deliver on May 16 the school’s commencement address.

“People felt like it was propaganda,” a faculty member said. Brown’s declaration that “DEI is dead” felt like he was “baiting” the room. But many professors, the faculty member added, are conflicted about publicly condemning Brown’s talk for fear that the Youngkin administration might “target” them or “politicize” their work or motives. . . . . . .

At various points during his talk, Brown suggested that race relations in the country have dramatically improved over the last several decades. “Because they’re better, we can’t ascribe perpetual victimization or even motives because they’re different,” he said. “Acknowledging those truths frees us up to deal with the issues, the real issues, of today.”

At the end of Brown’s speech, one person asked him how he could reconcile inclusiveness and reducing divisiveness with his opening Christian prayer.

“The one thing I probably did say that I probably shouldn’t have was ‘Jesus,’ ” he said. “And I should have focused on ‘our Creator’ because I am holding the position of a government official in this context and so … I understand that and I respect that. But I am not going to apologize for who I am.”

Martin D. Brown
Chief Diversity Officer
Commonwealth of Virginia

Martin D. Brown currently serves as Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion under Governor Glenn Youngkin. Chief Brown has extensive experience working in the private sector and state government, serving in senior executive positions for three previous Governors.

As Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services, he led and managed over 1,700 employees in 120 locations, overseeing the development of an online customer portal, safe reductions of children in foster care, and increases in adoption, as well as the development of a practice model strengthening Virginia’s families at every client contact. As Advisor to the Governor for Prisoner Re-Entry & Family Re-Integration, he established a best-practice family-strengthening program, now expanded statewide. As Policy Advisor to the Governor – he coordinated the state visit of Mrs. Coretta Scott King and the recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. as the first African American permanently memorialized on Virginia’s Historic Capital Square. While serving as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Chief Brown helped lead Virginia’s welfare reform effort.

In addition to his public sector experience, he has worked with hundreds of diverse individuals from six of the seven continents as President of the Providence Management Group, a media and public relations firm, and as manager of a Chick-fil-A franchise. He is a founding Board Member of the Gloucester Institute, served on the Board of Elijah House Academy and the Richmond Christian Leadership Institute and as a Pastoral Deacon for 14 years at Kingsway Community Church.

Chief Brown is a graduate of Howard University and the Virginia Executive Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. He and his wife Nita live in the Richmond area with their two adult children.

(Commonwealth of Virginia)

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