WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump has ordered government agencies to end employee training sessions on fighting racism because they amount to “un-American propaganda,” the White House said on Friday.
The order comes as Trump works to appeal to his white, blue-collar base while fighting an uphill battle for re-election amid a divisive national reckoning over how non-whites are treated in America, especially by police but in other spheres as well.
The White House said in a statement that “according to press reports, employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.’”
It added, “According to press reports, in some cases these trainings have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.”
The White House Office of Management and Budget said it had been ordered to “ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.”
Protests in major US cities erupted after the death of African American George Floyd in May at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Trump – who is pressing a tough law and order line in the run-up to November’s elections – has blasted such demonstrators as violent anarchists.
This week the US president visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, where African American Jacob Blake was shot in the back repeatedly by a white policeman and left paralysed from the waist down.
Trump did not meet with or speak to the man’s family during the visit, instead meeting with law enforcement officials and viewing damage from protests triggered by the shooting.