White House directs federal agencies to halt some race-related trainings

The directive targets training on "white privilege" or "critical race theory."

September 5, 2020, 1:47 PM

The White House is directing federal departments and agencies to "cease and desist" funding for certain types of race and diversity training, according to a new memo sent out to federal agencies by the Office of Management and Budget on Friday.

In the memo, OMB Director Russell Vought tells the heads of federal agencies that certain types of racial bias training, reportedly being administered by executive agencies, are "un-American" and "divisive" and said President Donald Trump had directed the agencies to stop these trainings.

"These types of "trainings" not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce," Vought wrote.

On Saturday morning, Trump retweeted nearly 20 references to this directive. Many of the tweets came from individuals who often tweet far-right leaning perspectives, as well as from several right-leaning publications.

One such retweet was a video of a Fox News' Tucker Carlson highlighting the use of the race and diversity trainings within the federal government.

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a campaign event at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Sept. 3, 2020, in Latrobe, Pa.
Keith Srakocic/AP

In the memo, Vought references press reports of trainings during which attendees have been told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” or are “required to say that they “benefit from racism.”

The memo was first reported by Real Clear Politics and followed by The Washington Post.

It was not immediately clear what specific trainings the memo was directing to be halted.

ABC News reached out to the White House for additional information on the types of training the White House is targeting with its directive. The inquiry was referred to the Office of Management and Budget, which did not immediately respond.

The White House will be offering additional guidance on carrying out the president's directive, the OMB memo states. In the meantime, agencies are being directed to identify these trainings and are encouraged to begin identifying ways to cancel contracts for trainings that teach "white privilege" or "critical race theory."

Diversity initiatives at federal agencies were implemented in part by a 2011 executive order by then-President Barack Obama. Advocates say they can be helpful in spotting racial biases and improving inclusivity.

Race has come into increasing focus in the run-up to the 2020 election, as protests over police shootings of people of color have spread nationwide.

Trump has been critical of these protesters and campaigned on the need for police and political leaders to crack down them.

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