Monday, March 13, 2023

Saturday's Black Brown Dialogues on Policy Virtual Town Hall on DEI and Ethnic Studies

Feeling so happy and blessed to have had our first event as Black Brown Dialogues on Policy last Saturday, March 11th with the assistance of our amazing design team and panelists to discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Ethnic Studies Policy in the 88th Session of the Texas State Legislature last Saturday. 

Many thanks to our sponsors: the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Texas NAACP, Texas LULAC, the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition, the Mexican American School Board Association, Texas Association for Chicanos in Higher Education, Texas Association for Diversity Officers of Higher Education, and the National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Pre-K 12 Committee for their solidarity and support.

Beginning with Senator Royce West, the morning focused on DEI and the afternoon focused on Ethnic Studies. The noon hour consisted of a teach-in on Critical Race Theory and its Critics as well as a session by our esteemed chairs of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus this session, namely, Rep. Ron Reynold and Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, and MALC Vice-Chair Christina Morales.

Collectively, the conversation centered on the passing of Ethnic Studies legislation House Bill 45, on the one hand, and on the other, defeating terrible bills like House Bill 1006, House Bill 1607, and House Bill 1046 that are listed below.

All of the panels were informative and encouraging, most especially the Gen Z panels that shared important insights on how DEI and Ethnic Studies policies have been beneficial to them. Thanks to Tony Diaz who moderated the afternoon panel on Ethnic Studies.

As BBDP, we are deeply committed to raising youth voices considering the ongoing legislative attacks on their generation as manifest in the various bill proposals that seek to curb their power and influence (e.g., transgender bills, voting rights, anti-CRT, anti-abortion, anti-DEI). 

Our timing couldn't be better considering the mobilizing of youth by the right to their cause: The New Children's Crusade: Recruiting for America's Culture War: Powerful Interests are sending Texas youth out to do battle against LGBTQ+, Abortion and Progressive Causes. Gen Z youth, as a whole, are not conservative, but lean liberal, if not progressive. Accordingly, read this peer-reviewed article titled, "The Millennial/Gen Z Leftists Are Emerging: Are Sociologists Ready for Them?"

Why this focus on our Gen Z youth—meaning youth born around 1995 and 1996? They succeed the Millennial generation, born between 1996 and the mid-2000s. They are our many undergraduate- and younger graduate student-level college students today. 

GenZ-ers are "digital natives," meaning that they know of no other world than the digital one they've inherited from earlier generations comprised of Boomers, Gen X-ers and Millennials. They are also the most diverse age-generational cohort in the history of the United States. Diversity and inclusion are their super power.

They were, by most accounts, a definite factor in the results of the 2022 midterms as pretty much any Google search will support including this piece authored by marketing expert, Mark Beal, titled, "Did Gen Z Voters Stop a Red Wave in the Midterm Elections?" Beal said that pollsters aren't getting at this demographic that "does not regularly view network and cable television." They clearly subverted Trump's 2020 election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, meriting mention in Wikipedia. The marketing world is ablaze with its focus on Gen Z right now.

For us "older" folks—us "Boomers" and 40-year old Millennials—I am getting increasingly convinced that understanding Gen Z and younger Millennials is a window to fostering intergenerational understanding, healing, and progressive values. Hence, the legislative attack on their generation that will trickle down to Gen Alpha born in the early 2010s.

Abundant thanks to all that participated and to our talented BBDP design team of media industry professionals and creatives. Thanks, as well, to co-founders, Gary Bledsoe of the NAACP and Colette Phillips, CEO of Get Konnected! in Boston. You can view the entire event here.

Many ideas came out of this event, including the importance of black brown unity in the faith community, youth organizing, and most importantly, what the data on DEI and Ethnic Studies indicate. 

Please take the pledge for diversity, equity and inclusion at our Black Brown Dialogues on Policy website so that you can be apprised of other events and opportunities to engage, particularly at this crucial moment in state policy and politics.

-Angela Valenzuela


Kaplan, E. B. (2020). The Millennial/Gen Z Leftists Are Emerging: Are Sociologists Ready for Them? Sociological Perspectives63(3), 408–427.

Lee, J. (2023, March 6). The New Children's Crusade: Recruiting for America's Culture War: Powerful Interests are sending Texas youth out to do battle against LGBTQ+, Abortion and Progressive Causes, Texas Observer.

House Bill 1006 seeks to “prohibit: (A) the funding, promotion, sponsorship, or support of: (i) any office of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and (ii) any office that funds, promotes, sponsors, or supports an initiative or formulation of diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond what is necessary to uphold the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

House Bill 1607 is the higher education analogue to Senate Bill 3 last legislative session that some have dubbed the “Texas anti-CRT” bill.

House Bill 1046 seeks to prohibit what they’re calling “political tests” in higher education utilized in hiring decisions or in student admissions as a condition of employment, promotion, or admission, to identify a commitment to or make a statement of personal belief supporting any specific partisan, political, or ideological set of beliefs, including an ideology or movement that promotes the differential treatment of any individual or group based on race or ethnicity.

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