Progressive Views: Diversity is a Strength

By Kevin Henning
For the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star,
April 14
, 2024

Image by Fauxels is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Attacking diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is all the rage for politicians and organizations that hope to foment hatred and bigotry. This further promotes political polarization, dysfunction, and distrust which are gigantic problems that must be solved if we are to remain a democracy.  DEI simply levels the playing field, so qualified people from less-than-optimum backgrounds have a fair chance to succeed. Helping those that have and are suffering discrimination is a strength, not a weakness. Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs help create a fairer environment to provide opportunities for individuals who need help. Getting rid of DEI offices, ending anti-bias training, and stopping public statements of caring for the less fortunate are designed to dismantle systems that support broad based fairness and progress. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes these efforts “represent yet another attempt to re-whitewash America’s history of racial subjugation, and to reverse efforts to pursue racial justice—or any progress at all.”

Here in Texas, Senate Bill 17 banned DEI starting this year. It has been called one of the worst bans in the nation. It prohibits programs that help minorities and others who have suffered discrimination for many years both by government and by individuals. The bill would remove funding from state institutions of higher learning that do not completely eliminate DEI programs and prohibits other actions that support resources for students of color and various ethnic groups. State schools are scrambling to comply and no doubt will, given that their funding is a stake.

With Alabama’s ban, a teacher’s ability to teach about the historical dangers of racism or antisemitism would be hamstrung. A faculty member could be punished for having students read some of the founding fathers’ racist ideas to understand and critique them, or for having them read about Nazi leaders’ anti-Semitic writings. The politicians opposing DEI are waging another culture war rooted in fear and false grievance. They believe they can get more power by sowing discord among people who feel threatened by the increasing demographic diversity and who lack exposure to individuals from diverse backgrounds. We cannot let a loud fringe movement promote misogyny, racism, antisemitism, and hatred of the LGTBQ community.

My own experiences span a 45 year career working for a major petroleum company and later as a business owner. When I joined the oil industry in 1970, it was dominated by white males and was very resistant to change. The DEI movement, which began in the 1960s as part of civil rights expansion, provided an excellent vehicle to help my company become more diverse and inclusive. I witnessed the benefits first-hand and was proud to help my company hire its first female and black engineers. This would not have been possible without DEI programs at many technical universities and within my company. Inclusion of these groups brought talent, creativity, and fresh viewpoints to a stodgy industry.

It is sad that so many extremists are attacking the cornerstone programs of civil rights and justice, including affirmative action, scholarship initiatives, employee resource groups, inclusive leadership programs, cultural awareness education, literature by diverse authors, non-Christian faiths, and corporations and their leaders committed to diversity and inclusion. The fear generated by these attacks threatens to unravel the very fabric that has made America the diverse and vibrant nation it is today. We must remain vigilant and continue to champion the cause of DEI. It is essential to preserving the values and ideals that define our great nation.

A majority of Americans are fed up with dysfunctional politics and the hatred it spawns. Attacking DEI is just another effort to divide the country. The essential elements for a democracy to function are civility and truth but we must also care about those less fortunate. I was so lucky to be part of a middle-class family, to get a great public school education, and go on to college to learn a skill that was in demand. Let’s not stop helping those that by the happenstance of their birth were not so fortunate.

For more information on the activities of the Kendall County Democratic Party, call our office at 830-331-1243 or visit

Kevin Henning is a local Democrat.

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