After months of nationwide protests calling for an end to systemic racism, President Donald Trump sent a memo Friday ordering federal agencies to stop racial sensitivity training for employees. Moving forward, they are expected to refrain from discussing terms Trump and his ilk consider “divisive, anti-American propaganda” such as white privilege” and “critical race theory”, NPR reports. 

The letter, issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Russell Vought, states:

…Employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” or where they are required to say that they “benefit from racism.”  

…All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” 

The memo continues by saying federal agencies “should begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these un-American propaganda training sessions,” NPR reports. 

Law professor and critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw  took to social media and called Trump’s move “McCarthyism 101”: 



A post shared by Kimberlé Crenshaw (@kimberlecrenshaw) on Sep 6, 2020 at 3:19pm PDT

While racial sensitivity training is a staple on college campuses and in corporate settings, it’s unclear how long it has been taking place at the federal level and which agencies have received it. According to NPR, conservative critic of the practice Christopher Rufo, director of the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality at the conservative Discovery Institute, said on Fox News this week that Trump needs to end these programs right away.

“It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government,” Rufo told host Tucker Carlson. “What I have discovered is that critical race theory has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people.”

NPR reports:

On Saturday [September 5], Trump retweeted Rufo’s appearance on Fox, arguing that diversity training is a threat to American unity. In response to a person who wrote that “critical race theory is the greatest threat to western civilization and it’s made its way into the US federal government,” Trump responded: “Not any more!” In another tweet, Trump called critical race theory “a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue.”

M.E. Hart, an attorney who has given hundreds of diversity training sessions for the federal government and businesses, spoke to The Washington Post about the importance of racial awareness training.

“If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise—‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — we have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible,” Hart said. “These classes have been very powerful in allowing people to do that, and we need them more than ever. There’s danger here.”

OMB said “it would soon issue more guidance on curtailing these training sessions,” according to The Post.