Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives are well-intentioned but ‘mostly garbage’ – according to comedian and radio host Charlamagne Tha God. His comments came during a recent appearance as guest host of The Daily Show – and while some people agree, others don’t. 

What Is DEI?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion refers to a set of guiding principles, practices, and policies intended to support people from various backgrounds – ensuring everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to thrive in the workplace. 

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We as employers need to make sure we’re including these individuals and that we’re giving them equity,” said HR expert Catalina Colman. “We need to make sure that, not only do they have a job, but they have the same ability to get promoted, to contribute and have the same impact.”

DEI Has Become A Cultural (And Political) Battlefield

If you live in America and describe yourself as an American, then you believe in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The problem is too many people today are using DEI as a political weapon – and it’s undermining all the good these programs are intended to do.

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For the most part, progressives are for DEI programs – viewing them as a means of combating institutionalized racism. Conservatives, on the other hand, generally oppose such programs – criticizing them for creating an unfair advantage for others. 

Charlamagne Tha God Calls DEI ‘Mostly Garbage’

During Wednesday night’s installment of The Daily Show, Charlamagne Tha God played a series of clips from ads promoting DEI – including commercials for Microsoft, General Mills, and Vaseline.

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He then played a series of clips that showed right-wing personalities – including Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, and Ron DeSantis – trashing DEI programs. In one clip, Pirro described DEI as a ‘rebranded version of hating white people.’ 

Likens DEI To The Black Little Mermaid

Charlamagne went on to call the right-wingers ‘crazy,’ but took a rather surprising stance against DEI – at least in the sense of how it’s used today. “The truth about DEI is that although it’s well-intentioned, it’s mostly garbage, okay,” he said.

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Charlamagne followed his comment up with a joke: “It’s kinda like the black Little Mermaid – just because racists hate it, doesn’t mean it’s good. And you know, I’m right, because every one of you has sat through one of those diversity training sessions and thought this is some bulls***.

Studies Show DEI Programs Are Ineffective

In his attack against DEI programs and initiatives, Charlamagne touted them as ‘ineffective’ in actually making the workplace better for minority groups. He went on to claim that ‘over 900 studies have shown that DEI programs don’t make the workplace better for minorities.’

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“In fact, it can actually make things worse because of the backlash effect,” Charlamagne said on The Daily Show. It’s unclear what studies he’s referring to, but one paper found that ‘antibias training does not reduce bias, alter behavior or change the workplace.’

Charlamagne Describes It As ‘Corporate PR’

He goes on to say he’s not surprised that DEI programs and initiatives don’t work – describing them as ‘corporate PR’ that’s only after ‘good vibes’ in the workplace. He also compared DEI programs to the D.A.R.E. program for drugs.

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“DEI training is like D.A.R.E. for racism. And you all know how effective that was. I was sitting there going, ‘Oh s**t, there’s a ton of fun drugs I should try,” Charlamagne said – alluding to the fact that DEI training seems to open the door to more racism. 

Calls For More Black Leadership

While Charlamagne doesn’t believe ‘good vibes’ is the answer to racism, he does believe that ‘real DEI is only going to come from black leadership’ – which is something he says the black community is lacking in today’s society.

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“The biggest failure of DEI is that the number of black people in power at big companies is basically the same as it was five years ago. In fact, maybe the only thing that DEI has accomplished is giving racist white people cover to be openly racist,” he said.

Spelman College President Responds To Charlamagne

In an interview with CNN NewsNight’s Abby Phillip, Spelman College president Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., offered her thoughts on Charlamagne’s DEI comments. The way she sees it, we need more dialogue in America – and DEI helps us achieve that.

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“DEI, you know, it’s become a label and people are not thinking beyond, ‘What does that really mean?’” she said – arguing that many Americans were brought here as enslaved individuals 400 years ago, but are now being denied the very opportunities that Americans receive daily.

Elon Musk Approves Of Charlamagne’s View

While some people disagreed with Charlamagne, others tended to agree with his points – including billionaire Elon Musk, who reposted a video of Charlamagne’s monologue on X. He didn’t offer any commentary but captioned the post with the raising hands emoji.

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It’s not the first time Musk has spoken out against DEI. “DEI is just another word for racism. Shame on anyone who uses it,” he wrote in a post on X in January. That post faced immediate backlash from several workplace experts – and even fellow billionaire Mark Cuban. 

Texas Rattles Community With Anti-DEI Law

On January 1, a new anti-DEI law took effect in Texas and it’s already causing a stir in the community. The law, formally known as SB17, would require universities to close their diversity, equity and inclusion offices – despite how popular they’ve become in recent years.

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The bill was approved along party lines in a 19 to 12 vote, but those who opposed it argued that it would make people from under-represented groups feel less welcome in schools across the country – effectively halting all progress made in the past. 

UT Austin Lays Off 60 Staff Members To Comply

For the University of Texas at Austin, the new law resulted in 60 staff members losing their job – two-thirds of whom were from the Division of Campus and Community Engagement. School President Jay Hartzell said the funds previously directed towards DEI will go towards teaching and research.

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“Me personally, I cried,” said one UT Austin student. “The fact that I am going to come back here next year and all the staff members I know and all the programs I value are just going to be gone, it’s very disheartening. I feel like my college experience is ruined.”

More States Are Following Suit

Texas isn’t the only state targeting diversity programs – in fact, it’s happening in at least a dozen states across the US – including Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

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Not only that, but nearly 20 other states have either introduced or struck down an anti-DEI law – and those that got struck down aren’t giving up. It’s just another thing conservatives and liberals will fight over in a tightly-contested election year.