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Blaming DEI programs for Baltimore bridge disaster is “preposterous,” says Minnesota trainer

In the days following the March 26 collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, racist rhetoric from social media critics has blamed DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiatives in the city and the state of Maryland for the disaster.

“This is preposterous,” said Lambers Fisher, a Minnesota DEI speaker, trainer, author and host of The Diversity Dude podcast on the podcasting platform.

A licensed marriage and family therapist, Fisher is the author of the award-winning book Diversity In Clinical Practice. He finds tweets and posts that demonize DEI programs to be discouraging but predictable.

“My reaction is, this is nothing new. Not long ago it was CRT, (Critical Race Theory) which was reframed by people who didn’t take the time to figure out what it was,” Fisher said.

“They make DEI the bad thing so they can stay in their comfort zone. DEI requires difficult conversations; mocking DEI lets people off the hook from taking responsibility.”

Following the bridge tragedy, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott Maryland and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, both Black Democrats, were featured prominently in media accounts and their high profiles apparently generated online trolling.

A Utah candidate for governor and a Florida Congressional candidate, both Republicans, joined multiple anti-DEI commenters on Twitter/X in making a link between the disaster and African-American leadership. Over a clip of the bridge falling, Anthony Sabatini, the GOP candidate for Congress in Florida’s 11th District, posted “DEI did this.”

“Statements like this are weak attempts to distract from necessary changes that need to be made to ensure that everyone feel seen and heard,” Fisher said.

After George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis in 2020, DEI programs expanded across the country as companies pledged to take steps to confront racism.

But since then, public pressure to improve racial equity has slowed and state legislatures in Florida, Texas and Utah have banned DEI efforts in higher education and public offices. Several other states have bans scheduled to be implemented later this year or have legislation pending that would restrict DEI programs.

But with numerous studies finding that a diverse workplace is more productive and profitable, Fisher is busy traveling the country presenting what he calls his “shame-free” DEI curriculum. He has found many businesses, nonprofits and faith groups are eager to hire him.

“DEI is the effort to make sure everyone feels culturally seen, heard and understood, no matter their similarities or differences,” he said. “DEI strengthens personal and professional relationships across cultures, which is what we strive for.”


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