3 Things My Future Children Need To Know About Race

I’m a DEI critic because my future kids deserve American dynamism, not skepticism.

People Images. Getty Images. Cropped shot of a group of unrecognisable business people waiting in line for a job interview.
People Images. Getty Images.

To read the Boston Globe, you’d think it was the Klan trying to take down DEI.

It’s no secret that conservatives’ crusade against DEI is causing a massive stir in our current cultural moment. From the heights of higher education to boardrooms across America, the culture war is shifting back into racial territory as the Right sets its sights on pushing racially exclusionary policies out of the public square. How you view this crusade heavily depends on who’s telling you about it — MSNBC writers are convinced that this anti-DEI push is fueled by a “positive vision of white nationalism that grew under Donald Trump.” On the other side, conservative media portrays the current moment as the tip of a much larger woke iceberg that, if conservatives are sufficiently dogged, will all be revealed in time.

This is more than just a clash of headlines and buzzwords. Debates over when, where, and how to do DEI are the outworkings of a philosophical conflict: cynical racialized tribalism vs. hope-filled American dynamism. To portray all of DEI’s critics as white nationalists and/or racists is to engage in the most pernicious sort of click-fueled intellectual dishonesty.

I question DEI, not because it serves minorities like me, but precisely because it doesn’t.

As an American of color who hopes to have kids one day, I have zero confidence in the ability of DEI true believers to give my children a healthy perspective on race. There’s a better and a worse way to do DEI, but I don’t trust them to get it right. In their well-intentioned but horribly executed bid to better America’s racial consciousness, there are three things mainstream DEI seems to have forgotten that my future children can’t afford to.

Viewing life through a racial lens is a profoundly depressing way to live life. As someone adopted from the Third World, I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to process all the ways that I’m different from the people I live around. Make no mistake, some of it’s inevitable. However, it’s also completely possible to overthink your own differences. This is a mindset question: Am I going to spend the rest of my life subconsciously enumerating all the things I don’t share in common with my neighbors, friends, colleagues, and fellow Americans? I’ve tried it — and in my less proud moments, I’m still tempted by that mindset — but it didn’t make my life better, and it hasn’t made my teamwork or conflict resolution skills any better either. It’s incredibly difficult to listen to the better angels of my nature when they’re telling me how oppressed I’m supposed to feel.

Race isn’t that interesting of a subject. As at odds as it may be with the current racial focus of DEI, race is a pretty shallow subject. In my own life, the extent to which race has played a part in my backstory and political evolution isn’t all that intriguing to talk about. As fellow DEI critic Coleman Hughes notes, “I’ve always found race to be boring … in most real-life situations, a person’s race tells you next to nothing about them.” He’s right — and it’s something future generations need to bear in mind. Being a racial minority is not a substitute for being an interesting or morally upright person, despite what the drivers of the current race-obsessed moment might have you believe. It’s hardly the first race-obsessed moment in our nation’s history, and that’s the hope that I want my children to bear in mind.

America has made tremendous racial progress. At its most fundamental level, this isn’t a question. Even if we don’t always reflect that progress, Americans of color are facing a far brighter world, in both law and culture, than we were 60 years ago when MLK stood by the monuments of our founders and revealed his dream to the world. That kind of progress should not be thrown away on the altar of soul-crushing activism or squandered in despair over the work that still remains. I want my children to be able to see the visage of Lincoln in our nation’s capital, as King did, and see the promise of a nation that was built for them, even if we didn’t always realize that. I want my children to feel the breeze in New York Harbor and realize that the torch of liberty is extended to them — the promise of hopeful dynamism in which all Americans share, despite the darkest parts of our history.

When I and my fellow critics raise questions about DEI, or the pseudo-language of microaggressions, or the false religion of antiracism, we’re doing so because we want a better future for the next generation. We’re not pushing back on DEI because of some deep-seated self-loathing or racial animus. We’re pushing back on DEI because it represents skepticism about the American dream, and the principles behind a society that’s given us everything. We cannot afford to be jaded in this moment, not when we’ve come so far. If there is to be a struggle against those who would race-hustle America, let it be in our time — so future generations can see exactly what it is we’re fighting for.

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Isaac Willour is a senior at Grove City College and an award-winning journalist focusing on race, culture, and American conservatism. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the New York Times. He is a member of the Young Voices contributor program, and can be found on X @IsaacWillour.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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