It’s safe to say that Martin Brown, Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion under Gov. Glenn Youngkin, is not your typical DEI bureaucrat. In fact, Brown would like nothing better than to see his job disappear.
During a speech to VMI cadets, Brown praised VMI for educating the leaders of tomorrow and added, “We are living in a crazy time right now,” later adding, “We can’t continue to operate like we have as a country, as a state, and as institutions of higher learning.”
“We can’t ascribe perpetual victimization or even motives because they’re different. Acknowledging those truths frees us up to deal with the real issues of today … it’s creating a sense of division in the greatest country in the world.”
Naturally, not everyone agreed with those sentiments. The Virginia chapter of the NAACP issued a statement, “The speech was filled with partisan talking points and erroneous assumptions and demonstrated Mr. Brown’s lack of fitness for the critically important position he occupies.”
“Mr. Brown implied that the very existence of the office he occupies creates division and what he called ‘stink’ among the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. His comments are not in keeping with either the intent of the office nor the spirit of unity of people supported by the Virginia State Conference NAACP. He should resign immediately.”
Why is it that those who do their absolute best to create division and disunity in America yell the loudest when someone calls them out for it?
During the Q&A portion after his speech, a faculty member in the audience, who identified herself as a minority, complained about current DEI policies mandated by the Virginia General Assembly. The same faculty member indicated she would like to see a shift away from DEI, which Brown said he agreed with.
Then, he didn’t mince words.
“DEI is dead,” he told the audience.
“It was mandated by the general assembly, but this governor has a different philosophy of civil discourse, civility, treating people with the golden rule,” he said.
Brown, a graduate of D.C.’s historically Black college Howard University, told audience members that it is his and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s position that diversity and inclusion can inform the mission of institutions such as VMI, but that it can’t be the mission itself. (emphasis added)
Exactly. That was the original intent of diversity and inclusion in schools. Basing an entire society on counting people by the color of their noses to define “equity” is, by definition, discriminatory and exclusionary.
Brown who is black, argued at VMI that the pursuit of equity means “you’re not pursuing merit or excellence or achievement.”
“For him to hold that role as a Black man and to continue to collect a six-figure salary in that role and go to VMI and make statements like that, I think that takes disingenuousness to another level,” said State Sen. Lamont Bagby, chairman of the state legislative Black Caucus.
“If diversity is the wrong mission, isn’t he in the wrong job?” Robert Barnette Jr., the Virginia NAACP president asked. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a staple of corporate organizations for many years, so to say that it’s dead at an institution of higher learning is very troubling and that’s why we called for his resignation. This man is in the wrong job.”
Why make DEI the end-all and be-all of academic institutions? All Brown is saying is that there are other criteria — objective and unbiased — that can measure excellence. And if excellence isn’t the goal, then why not just come out and say so?
The NAACP is avoiding the issue. It’s not what Brown said; it’s what he didn’t say that they’re trashing him for. In that case, he should go right on not parroting their talking points about DEI and continue graduating exceptional cadets.