U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to stop federal funding for certain racial diversity training programs at the White House, which a memo calls “divisive, anti-American propaganda.”
The memo from Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought alleges employees have been required to attend training sessions “where they are told that ‘virtually all white people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism,'” citing unnamed media reports.
In the memo released Friday, Vought directs all federal agencies to identify any contracts or other spending for training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege” and other “propaganda” that “teaches or suggests … that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country” or that “any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”
“The divisive, false and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the federal government,” the memo reads.
The memo says the president has directed Vought to cease and desist any taxpayer dollars towards the programs.
The memo comes after multiple appearances on Fox News by Christopher Rufo, a research fellow at the right-wing Discovery Institute. Rufo has discussed with host Tucker Carlson about his “one-man war” against critical race theory, which he contends has “pervaded every institution of the federal government.”
Critical race theory contends that systemic racism exists within the law and criminal justice systems, and that white privilege exists in society’s institutions.
Carlson has told his viewers during his segments with Rufo that such thinking is behind the widespread, sometimes violent protests against racial injustice and police brutality that were sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody last May.
Rufo contended that trainers and programs teaching critical race theory have been adopted by various federal agencies in the U.S. He also expressed outrage over an alleged program at Sandia National Laboratories, a major nuclear laboratory, where white male executives were tasked with writing apology letters to women and people of colour for their biases and privilege.
After Rufo’s latest appearance on Carlson’s program Tuesday — where he implored Trump to sign an executive order banning such training in the federal government — Fox News reported that the Trump administration was working to halt the practice.
As the debate over police killings of Black people has evolved into larger discussions about Black inequalities and systemic racism, Trump and his allies have dismissed arguments that racism still exists in the country’s institutions. Trump has often met such questions with disdain, calling reporters “horrible” and “awful” for asking them.
On Tuesday, during his visit to Kenosha, Wis. — where officers shot Jacob Blake in the back and a 17-year-old Trump supporter killed two demonstrators in the resulting protests — Trump called suggestions of systemic racism “destructive.”
He’s also downplayed the killings of Black people by police, telling multiple interviewers that “more white people” die at the hands of police than Black people. While technically true based on crime statistics, studies have shown Black Americans are over twice as likely to be killed by police compared to white people.