All across America, there is a coordinated effort by rightwing policy makers to stop colleges, universities, and even corporations like ours from embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion. How can a nation with democratic ideals of “liberty and justice for all” find itself debating the mere mention of race—and worse, denying its impact on systems, laws, practices, and behaviors? Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas have signed laws that literally ban diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. There are now more than 8 states that have passed anti-DEI laws, with many more considering them.

Make no mistake, these attacks on DEI programs and policies are part of a larger, coordinated effort to stop the collective progress we’ve made on issues of racial justice and equity and the pledges made to accelerate change, particularly since the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some who promote policies that seek to dismantle DEI programs do so because they believe that America must affirm the ideal of colorblindness. But to believe in the idea of a colorblind America is to be blind to its segregationist past and the lasting legacy it has on our present.

We believe creating a more just and equitable society requires an acknowledgment of the truth as well as taking action. We understand that you cannot address the legacy of our racist past and the systemic nature of racism that persists today if you make it a crime to talk or do something about it. Those who promote these policies undermining DEI appear to believe that you can make a problem go away by simply erasing it. To be clear, you can’t address a problem if you don’t admit you have one.

Regardless of where companies, universities, and other institutions are on their equity journey, making this work illegal is unacceptable. It is everyone’s right and we believe it is our responsibility to do this work. We call on other companies and institutions to prioritize this important work and not be intimidated or bullied by lawmakers and others who seek to ban policies and programs to advance the causes of racial and social justice. We know that a future rooted in freedom, liberation, and justice for us all is possible, it’s a moral imperative. Instead of dismantling the programs designed to create equity across our society we should be dismantling white supremacy.

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