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Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship

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At this point, there should be no doubt that white conservatives have effectively made DEI the new N-word.

We’ve seen it over and over again: all white people need to see is a Black person (or non-white male in general for that matter) in charge of a thing, and without knowing anything else about the person, they’ve made their white supremacist minds up that the person is a “DEI hire,” or that any association they might have with a DEI program means they weren’t qualified to do their job.

MORE: Baltimore Mayor Asks Media To Stop Showing ‘Traumatizing’ Video Of Key Bridge Collapsing

As soon as news broke that a major bridge in Baltimore had collapsed, we all should have known it was only a matter of time before white right-wingers conjured up a non-existent link between the tragedy and DEI. It was inevitable based on everything we know about whiteness and the delusion of meritocracy that comes with it. A viral tweet by a racist twit even labeled Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott a “DEI mayor,” despite the fact that seven out of the city’s last eight mayors have also been Black, and despite the fact that he is an elected official who won 70% of the vote in a city that is more than 60% Black.

So, it should surprise absolutely no one that a Republican lawmaker in Utah is retweeting white nationalist nonsense about how the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore went down because a Black woman is one of the port commissioners.

On Tuesday, Utah state Rep., Phil Lyman, retweeted a post from the Young Conservative Federation, which said: “Let’s meet the Commissioners for the Port of Baltimore, starting with Karenthia A. Barber. She knows nothing about Ports, but she is a ‘diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant.’” The caption is accompanied by a photo and profile of Commissioner Karenthia A. Barber, a Black woman.

Lyman captioned his post, “This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens.”

Does Lyman or the YCF have any fact-based knowledge the rest of us don’t have that indicates Barber is at fault for the collapse of the bridge, or that she “knows nothing about ports?” Of course not. Racist white nonsense doesn’t need to be factual, it just needs to inflame the racial resentment of white nationalists who shout “DEI” at every Black person they see sitting behind a desk, holding office or operating a plane. After all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pilots and flight engineers are currently around 92% white and male, but that didn’t stop white people from blaming DEI hiring practices after an Alaska Airlines Boeing aircraft lost a part of its fuselage during a flight.

Anyway, here’s a little more on Barber and the salty white conservatives who don’t know WTF they’re talking about. From NBC News:

Barber is one of six commissioners serving at least three-year terms overseeing the Port of Baltimore. In addition to work on DEIB training, coaching and consulting, Barber’s bio includes experience teaching on the university level and being the first female chair of the board of Maryland Automobile Insurance. The other five commissioners’ bios say they also have a range of career experience, including in maritime science, shipping, the airline industry, corporate law and Maryland’s department of transportation.

DEI consultant Nika White said Lyman’s assertions were “not only irresponsible, anti-Black and anti-woman but also profoundly misguided.”

White added, “By linking Port of Baltimore Commissioner Karenthia Barber’s background to the accident solely because of her involvement with DEI efforts, conservatives like Lyman reveal their bias, ignorance, and willingness to say anything for votes.”

But let’s keep something all the way real: It wasn’t just Barber’s connection to a diversity program that prompted the tweets. The YCF clearly saw a Black woman in a position they didn’t think she should be in and set their white supremacist sights on her. What other reason is there to assume she “knows nothing about ports?”

At the very least, Lyman must have realized what a racist butthole his tweets made him look like, because in an interview with the Salt Lake City Tribune, he claimed the posts were made by someone on his social media staff and were not approved.

“It was not our best moment,” he said. “The post was a knee-jerk reaction to some of the things others were putting out there. I prefer a dignified approach and sometimes the people who handle the social media are more provocative than what I’m comfortable with.”

Even if we were to take his word for it that his staff was behind the post, it’s still indicative of his own attitude since his staff clearly thought he’d be OK with it. And I suppose his staff was also behind a post calling DEI “poison” in a retweet of proven racist Scott Adams, who doesn’t even seem to understand the concept of DEI and appears to believe it should include a balance of Democrats and Republicans. (Now would be a good time to remind folks that Adams doesn’t understand how elections work, but, sure, let’s listen to him about the unjust lack of Republicans in the workplace.)

Maybe the truth about Lyman, the YCF, Scott and the rest is that they’re all peas in the same white nationalist pod, and they absolutely demonstrate the desperate need for diversity, equity and inclusion in America.


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