State Sen. Royce West of the 23rd Senatorial District – The Dallas Examiner Screenshot/ Black & Brown Dialogues On Policy video


The Dallas Examiner 


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs are essential for creating a more equitable society and helping marginalized groups overcome systemic barriers. However, some Texas lawmakers have recently proposed bills that, if passed, would restrict or eliminate these programs.

Recently, Black Brown Dialogues on Policy hosted its first virtual town hall meeting in partnership with Texas LULAC, the Texas NAACP, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus to discuss the importance of DEI initiatives in Texas colleges and universities and Ethnic Studies policy in K-12 education in Texas.

Panelists included experts and students who discussed the benefits of DEI programs and how they help build more diverse, inclusive and welcoming spaces for youth and faculty in higher education. The day-long town hall allowed community members, employers and legislators to learn more about DEI programs and voice their support.

Collectively, the conversation centered on passing Ethnic Studies legislation House Bill 45 and defeating HB 1006, HB 1607 and HB 1046.

HB 45, if passed, would ensure that each school district with kindergarten through grade 12 offer a foundation curriculum that includes:

  • English language arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies consisting of Texas, United States and world history, government and economics, with an emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits, geography and ethnic studies, including African American and Mexican American studies.

On the other hand, HB 1006 would seek to prohibit the funding, promotion, sponsorship or support of any office of diversity, equity and inclusion that would impact all public colleges and universities in Texas. HB 1607 will make public higher education institutions ineligible for state funding if they teach banned concepts, such as topics associated with critical race theory. HB 1046 seeks to prohibit political tests in higher education utilized in hiring decisions or student admissions as a condition of employment, promotion, or admission to identify a commitment to make a personal belief supporting any specific partisan, political, or ideological set of ideas.

“What we see happening now is a systemic attack on our young people. It’s an attack on all of us,” Moderator Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D., and BBDP co-convener opened with.

The morning session focused on DEI and higher education and the potential outcome if HB 1006, HB 1607 or HB 1046 were to pass. State Sen. Royce West opened.

“We’ve been asking not to be discriminated against. We want to be included in the mix for consideration for these jobs that are being awarded to persons,” West said. “When you began to think about the employment of the state, when you break it down by state agencies and institutions, higher education, White Texans have benefited.”

“These policies represent an attack. An attack on the diversity and the equity that make Texas and the United States of America strong as an economic machine to this entire system,” panelist Roque A. Aguon Jr., Ph.D. added, “That means all of us are required to participate. These policies are bad for business in Texas, period.”

“These bills seek to silence. They seek to erase and more marginalize communities from their history,” panelist Dr. Danielle Clealand commented, “When Black students and Latinos students don’t know what their histories are, they don’t think that they’ve contributed because often in these classes, their stories are not told.

“We need thousands of you, thousands of you, to show up and testify against the bills. If you really care about this issue and it’s important to you, we need thousands of you to come together and sign up and testify against these bills,” West expressed.


Gen Z panel: What DEI means to me

One of the most interesting discussions was the Gen Z student panel with Pablo Diaz as the moderator. Diaz first asked the young panel how they felt about what the previous panel discussed.

Julianna “Jules” Collado, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, agreed with the using merit-based programs. However, she said that Black and Brown contributions needed to be seen as meritus.

Mateo Rosiles, vice president for LULAC and recent graduate of Texas Tech University, appreciated the previous panelists for fighting for the rights of the students, but stated that students needed to be part of the fight as well.

“We need to be voicing our own opinions because, sooner or later, it will come down to us to be able to pick up this mantle and carry it for the next generation,” he added.

Janeva Wilson, a graduate student at the UT-Austin, agreed with Dr. Clealand’s point on connecting students to their heritage.

“I can personally speak to that point and the importance of learning about my history, which as really impowered me and strengthened my racial identity,” Wilson shared. “And then echoing what Dr. Flores said about we can’t deny what happened in the past because it will continue to persist in the present and the future. And ensuring access to education – which includes acknowledging out nation’s racist past – ensures economic opportunity and expansion, which is really beneficial for everyone.”

The young panelists also shared their insights on how DEI and Ethnic Studies policies benefited them.

“I think the attacks we are seeing right now are people responding to the change in demographics and a thought that their way of life is going to change and die out. So, I think that these attacks we are seeing are a sign that we are winning the long-time battle, the long-time war, and they are trying to silence us,” Collado said.

“As a Black woman who attended an HBCU and then transitioning to a PWI, it’s really disheartening to hear some of this anti-DEI legislation coming around in Texas,” Wilson affirmed. “Because I really want to the ability to create and maintain an environment in my education and workplace that really allows my identity and other students’ identity to thrive. I want to be in spaces that recognize things like power and privilege, and work to adjust hostile environments and practices, so that they don’t continue to exclude or harm students who have diverse identities.

She said she felt DEI policies were essential in diversifying, aiding in retention, supporting the student body and protecting the existence. She went on to say that schools like UT-Austin still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity among the student body and faculty, “and trying to stifle DEI in higher education really lowers the brand of Texas and UT-Austin.” Moreover, she declared that no institution could pride themselves in being the best without supporting all students.

Other panel discussions included a teach-in on Critical Race Theory and its critics and a session by the chairs of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

“We are at the start of this fight. We are trying to protect what we have right now, and hopefully, in the future, we are able to advance these equities and inequalities and make sure they are addressed and fixed,” Rosiles affirmed.

BBDP is a collective organization of academics, students and community members seeking to uplift and empower marginalized communities of color through research, collective action and legislative advocacy. To learn more about the organization and its efforts and to take a pledge for DEI, visit


Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner contributed to this report.

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