In response to mounting opposition from figures like Elon Musk and Bill Ackman, an unofficial alliance of civil rights, political, and advocacy groups is spearheading a countermovement against the calls to dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Behind the scenes, the National Urban League, Congressional Black Caucus, and the Black Economic Alliance have quietly collaborated, viewing this as a critical front in the ongoing cultural struggle.
Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, is leading the coalition. He told NBC News that there’s an immediate need for swift action as attacks on DEI gained momentum. Black organization leaders rallied together, recommitting to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on ensuring equal opportunities for Black individuals in the workforce, Morial stated.
Elon Musk and Bill Ackman have been vocal critics of DEI, with Musk going so far as to dub it “another word for racism.” NBC reported that a clash on Musk’s X platform with Mark Cuban underscored the divisive nature of the debate, while Ackman’s claim that Martin Luther King Jr. would oppose DEI initiatives raised eyebrows.
The coalition said it adopts a multifaceted strategy, with the National Action Network, led by Al Sharpton, staging weekly protests at Ackman’s offices. This ongoing activism signals a commitment to tangible actions, coalition officials said. The Congressional Black Caucus initiated efforts by querying Fortune 500 companies on their DEI commitments, seeking transparency and progress reports.
Morial hinted at plans to directly engage business leaders, expressing a desire to address the Business Roundtable, an assembly of 200 CEOs. The coalition aims to gauge corporate commitment to DEI, allowing responses to shape their future course of action.
Amid claims that opposition to DEI has always existed, the National Business League, established in 1900, pledges support for businesses aligned with DEI values. Ken L. Harris, the league’s president, emphasized their commitment to collaborating with corporations that genuinely prioritize diversity and inclusion.
“We’re up against an effort to contort and misrepresent what DEI really means,” Morial asserted.
The upheaval around DEI gained momentum following the Supreme Court’s decision to ban affirmative action in college admissions. Challenges to race-consciousness in business have since emerged, prompting a reassessment of inclusion efforts. Advocacy groups like the National Black Chamber of Commerce play a pivotal role in navigating these challenges, focusing on uplifting Black businesses in a shifting landscape.
Morial acknowledged the challenging road ahead against opponents with momentum but underscored the importance of encouraging business leaders to be courageous and resist intimidation. He framed the fight as extending beyond DEI, characterizing it as a battle for the essence of America.
Further, arguing against Musk, Ackman and others who claim everyone already is afforded equal opportunity, Morial posited: “That opportunity might get you in the door, but it can’t sit for the test. It can’t do the homework. It can’t sit for the bar exam or the medical board. You have to do that, and Black people have succeeded in doing the work when given the chance.
“So, when you attack DEI, you are literally slapping us in the face. You’re literally saying that we don’t deserve an opportunity.”
Source: Published without changes from Washington Informer Newspaper