OPINION: DEI craziness envelops Atlanta; can Fayette remain  the sane alternative?


OPINION — Metropolitan Atlanta is losing ground on providing locations not subject to the class-identity ideology and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) charades.

This is not only grave news for attracting lucrative businesses to Georgia, but it also impacts the ideological upbringing of future generations.

Billionaire businessman Bill Ackman decided to research DEI and its impact on business. He concluded, “DEI was not about diversity in its purest form, rather DEI was a political advocacy movement on behalf of certain groups that are deemed oppressed under DEI’s own methodology.” Ackman continued, “When one examines DEI and its ideological heritage, it does not take long to understand that the movement is inherently inconsistent with basic American values.”

Once bastions of conservative politics, counties such as Gwinnett, Cobb, North Fulton, Henry, and Douglas dissolve into the same left-of-center ideology as South Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton.

If the state legislature continues to maintain a pro-business Republican majority, Fayette County and Forsyth County might have an advantage when out-of-state businesses are looking for a new location.

The situation

Gwinnett County might be the perfect example nationally of a county transformed from a rural locale to a traffic-congested, overbuilt nightmare in the shortest period. Because of its extended access to Interstate 85, Gwinnett used to be an attractive site location for incoming corporate interests.

As positive statistics waned in predominately Democrat South Fulton and DeKalb, Gwinnett became the go-to spot for new business. Unfortunately, the county went from good to bad as people tied to the real estate development industry were elected to county and city offices.

Gwinnett officials always appeased the real estate developers while neglecting infrastructure and quality of life issues. They are now packing the huge throngs of new residents in the thousands upon thousands of new in-fill apartment complexes while entire shopping centers go vacant, and businesses go elsewhere.

The inept Republican leadership in Gwinnett fumbled, creating a retail-wage environment where low rent is an attraction. The lower income influx ushered in the Democrat wave and the new era of Democrat DEI leadership.

The ideology has now shifted away from pro-business shareholder interest to left-leaning “stakeholder” interest. In 2021, Nick Masino, President & CEO, of Gwinnett Chamber announced, “The Gwinnett Chamber recognizes, now, more than ever, that diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental growth drivers across all businesses in our community.”

Gwinnett’s DEI fate is mirrored in North Fulton. In fact, Forsyth County grew rapidly as affluent homeowners fled Gwinnett and North Fulton for a better environment.

The DEI direction

Some determined left-leaning state and local governments across the nation are moving to change society through their authority to impact business. Government regulation is a cost of doing business and a powerful weapon in forcing ideology in their communities. Metro Atlanta is beginning to move in that direction.

Locally, the City of Atlanta is the cutting edge of the involuntary diversity, equity, and inclusion crusade.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said Atlanta is doubling down on its equity efforts. The Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (MOEDI) works to create “behavioral change solutions” that “advance equitable outcomes” (see: https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/mayor-s-office/executive-offices/office-of-equity-diversity-and-inclusion).

Notice that the city’s goal is outcomes and not opportunities. To drive those equal outcomes, the city enacts mandatory behavioral changes. It’s reminiscent of Mao Zedong’s reeducation camps where political prisoners and nonpolitical prisoners were forced to conform to communist thought under the guise of promoting equal outcomes for all.

To make his point, Mayor Dickens issued the “Inclusive Language and Action Administrative Order” (see excerpt below).

Dickens is promoting coercive persuasion and thought control through mandatory re-education. The city staff and their extended audience will have to conform to the approved “mental model shift” leading to a “systemic shift” in beliefs and action, ensuring that the people in power will not be hurt or offended.

Dickens and his Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion released a language guide for reeducating those not conforming to the “ultimate organizational transformation.”

In the preface, Dickens says, the “Inclusive Language Guide is not just a mere set of linguistic guidelines, it is a testament to our dedication to growth and transformation with equity, diversity, and inclusion at the forefront.”

The language guide instructs the newly reeducated not to say “minorities,” and to use “Latinx” to describe people from Latin America. Additionally, the reeducated are commanded to never use the phrases “biologically male, biologically female, genetically male, genetically female, born a man, [or] born a woman.”

The reeducated are directed to call “homeless” people “unhoused” instead. Likewise, never use the terms “illegal immigrant, alien, illegals, or illegal worker.”

Of course, the reeducation on linguistics is only a precursor to the compulsory ideological actions that create “equitable outcomes.”

Watch as Atlanta begins to mimic New York, Chicago, and all of California with legislative efforts to manipulate businesses into abiding by their ideology.

Predictable results

We do not need a crystal ball to see what the future holds if DEI policies continue to clamp down on businesses and individuals in metro Atlanta. California is a decade ahead of us on the ideological transformation front.

Residents and business headquarters are leaving California, and at an increasing rate (see: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adammillsap/2021/08/27/businesses-are-fleeing-california-along-with-its-residents-and-president-biden-should-pay-attention/?sh=157896f52327).

From January 2018 to June 2021, California lost 265 corporate headquarters.

The mandates in California and its cities will take your breath away. From dictating the allowance of legalized stealing from retail stores to forcing all-electric freight trucks to imposing “climate reporting” laws on every facet of business.

California is mandating $20 per hour for fast-food restaurant workers. Likewise, any retailer that has toys in their product line will be fined if they do not sell gender-neutral in their stores. And they wonder why businesses are leaving.

As the rest of metro Atlanta drifts towards California-like fanatical ideology, other counties in Georgia like Fayette can reap significant rewards by moving in the other direction.

Dying from within

The ultimate target for the far-left activists is our children. The efforts to force our children to upend cultural norms are powerful and have gotten wildly psychotic and dramatically inappropriate. Some of the most noted examples are drag queen story times in public libraries and the corruption of textbooks, library selections, and lessons taught in public schools.

Many young children are also motivated to question their sex and gender while offered government assistance for drug and surgical treatments without parental consent.

The easiest way to decimate a community is to compel future generations to rebel. Convincing young children to question their biological being, creating value judgments based on skin color, and promoting mathematics and Western culture as racist are just some of the ploys used to achieve the “mental model shift” leading to the “systemic shift” toward Marxist ideology.

The Georgia legislature passed several bills placing the responsibility of a child’s education back into the hands of parents.

The new laws include The Parents’ Bill of Rights (https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/61677) and the Protect Students First Act banning the teaching of “divisive concepts” on race (https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/6147).

Kemp says the new laws put “students and parents first by keeping woke politics out of the classroom.” However, parents must be willing to be more active in their child’s education.

Even with the recent legislative efforts, the pervasive messaging on social media and the Marxist undercurrent in our universities might be too strong to prevent future generations from creating a business debacle like California here in Georgia.

Pivotal Moment

Being receptive to the out-of-state corporations fleeing the left-leaning tyrannical mandates would bring some long-term success.

Can the elected leadership in Fayette County agree to become the pro-business, quality-of-life niche market in metro Atlanta without the California and Illinois-style craziness? It’s possible.

We have some elected officials who embrace DEI and forced equitable outcomes, but they are in the minority (can’t say “minority” in Atlanta) currently.

What type of business environment do you want to see in Fayette County? Let your elected officials know your thoughts.

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. You can read all his columns by clicking on his photo below.]


  1. It’s interesting to note that Steve comments that “California is a decade ahead of us on the ideological transformation front” than metro-Atlanta. He then references a Forbes article about why business headquarters are leaving the state and then insinuates right afterwards that it’s the state’s various mandates (allowance of legalized stealing in retail stores to selling of gender-neutral toys) that are actually driving businesses away there. Nowhere in the article does it state this.

    For the number of varying reasons why businesses are leaving that state, read the Hoover Institution Economic Paper titled “Why Company Headquarters Are Leaving California …” (September 2022). It does a decent job in their analysis on the subject matter. It does not however address the number of new business ventures that are starting up there (countering the #s lost) or the actual California state economy performance, but let’s stay on topic here, the policies.

    In the report, the authors cite numerous factors for companies that are relocating, and they are to no surprise; high taxes on the state and local levels, an uncompetitive litigation environment, a stern regulatory climate, high labor costs, increasing energy costs and so on. Their employees raise concerns of a higher cost of living, housing costs that are soaring, capped job growth and opportunities, etc. And nowhere within this study, which is referenced in the Forbes article, does it mention any of Steve’s examples of goofy mandates or even his so-called DEI movement.

    Speaking of regulatory concerns however, a CEO in that state did have issues with his local building codes, specifically going above a mandated three-story only regulation. Once he moved out of state, he found building permits granted to him and placed upon his desk without even an application process. And that Steve is what Fayette needs to be “sane about,” regulations of a different sort.

  2. I agree with Brown’s assessment of the dangers of the DEI situation. However, I would point out that taking a generic, “pro-business” conservative attitude of the 80s and 90s is insufficient in our world today because DEI is a harmful ideological threat that has contaminated corporate culture at the highest levels. In other words, the DEI threat is not coming strictly from the governmental sector, but also is coming from businesses that have been filled with those who either actively push leftist ideology, or that passively go along with DEI demands.

    DEI is a huge threat because of how pervasive it is within very powerful institutions. On the bright side, though, we know that DEI will eventually lose because it’s fighting a battle against reality, and reality always wins. The problem is that until DEI finally does lose, the ideology could cause massive destruction that brings all of society down.

  3. Steve’s example of the word policing by the city of Atlanta should trouble us all. Another prediction that Orwell got right. Control words, control the masses.

    It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance and civility, but in reality it restricts free speech and looks to squash viewpoints that are traditional common-sense American.

    Say “illegal alien” or “born a man”? Prefer Latino to Latinx? Off to DEI re-education, maybe lose your job.

    Most people agree we are not the America we used to be, and not for the better either. Look no farther than progressive government, education and media enforcing change we didn’t ask for or want as a root cause of our divided country.

  4. Steve’s city of Atlanta example of acceptable words should deeply trouble us all. It’s another of Orwell’s predictions come true. Control the language, control the masses.

    Say “illegal aliens”, or “born a man (or woman)”? Prefer Latino to Latinx? Verboten. Off to DEI training for you, perhaps even loss of your job.

    It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance and civility, but it’s actually intended to discourage free speech and demean viewpoints progressives don’t approve of. Control words and you control how people think.

    The progressive left is using government, media, education, etc to “reimagine” America, and we are seeing it tear the fabric of our country apart. Don’t fall for it.

    • “The progressive left is using government, media, education, etc to “reimagine” America, and we are seeing it tear the fabric of our country apart. Don’t fall for it.”

      Hey, isn’t the conservative right trying to ban books? By using the gov’t? In our educational facilities? Also, I think Fox News (Conservative Media) had to pay $787 million b/c they lied to the American public. You could even say their lies contributed to the very fabric tear you are pointing out. Hell, I reckon you could say through book banning and media manipulation that the conservatives might be trying to “reimagine” America. Don’t fall for it, Catbill.

      • Owl – Ironic that you make the untrue claim that conservatives are banning books, when a main point in Steve’s article is about the actual far-left “banning” of common words.

        All of the books that you claim are “banned” are still available. You may still purchase a copy of “This Book Is Gay” or “Gender Queer” if that’s your thing.

        The only issue is whether or not the book is appropriate for our schools and public libraries to have for children. Most communities are against adult and divisive topics being pushed onto kids, which you label as “banning”.

        Besides, California has “banned” To Kill A Mockingbird from its schools for being “racist”. Do you also throw shade at them?

        And most conservatives would just like to be left alone to live their lives without the constant far-left woke agenda (52 genders, men can be women, all whites are racists, etc, etc) being thrust onto them.

        • Obviously being “left alone” has vastly different meanings for conservatives. I guess it doesn’t apply to deciding for yourself about your own reproductive health, allowing parents to make decisions about what is best for their own children’s sexual issues, allowing educators to freely teach the subjects they have spent years studying, allowing librarians who have degrees in library science to chose their catalogues, etc., etc., etc.

          The truth is that ideologues from either end of the political spectrum will be very pleased to limit personal freedoms when it suits their purposes.

          • Fiction – I do appreciate you for your commentary, if only to show the shallowness of lefty thinking. Yes, most conservatives would just like the insanity of woke-ism and progressive change to just go away.

            You bring up abortion, another progressive-led movement. Remember, for all of our nation’s history until the early 70’s it was illegal. All you have is a bumper sticker slogan about the mother’s “right” to abort for her own convenience, which is legally incorrect. You also cannot prevail on arguments of morality or biology, and you ignore the actual rights of the other two humans involved. Instead, you hide behind euphemisms that mask what is really happening.

            Moving on, why is the left currently so involved with the sexual issues of children? From Drag Queen Story Hour to puberty blockers for 10 year olds and grooming by the LBGTQ crowd. Why do you all seek to prevent parents from knowing what teachers know and are doing with their kids? Just stop.

            Allowing educators to just teach whatever they want? Are you kidding me? As in, boys can become girls, or that there are 52 genders? Teachers are employees of the school board, which is the representative of the parents of the community. They teach what the local school board adopts.

            Same with trusting librarians to set the standards for what is placed in a school library. Their “library science” degree does not overrule what parents decide is appropriate for children in their district.

            Seems to me you don’t have much of substance to complain about conservatives. And that’s because we spend all of our time trying to prevent or undo the horrible ideas of the left. Just leave us alone.

          • Hi Cat – You are missing the point, which is that ideologues from both sides of the political spectrum will gladly dictate what society can and can’t do. You seem to give a pass to one side and excoriate the other. I don’t like it when either side coerces their “truth” onto the other. The far right and far left are equal opportunity offenders.

  5. I notice some defenders of DIE refer to “equality” – that isn’t what the E stands for. The proponents purposely chose “equity” not “equality” and it’s not just an oopsie in the implementation that’s the problem. They are very clearly demanding equal outcomes, not equal opportunity.

    Just one example – United Air Lines has publicly stated that new pilots will meet certain quotas of specified race/gender categories. Let’s not worry about whether this results in less capable pilots, the quotas are worth the risk to other people’s lives.

  6. Steve is exactly right… there is absolutely nothing redeemable or productive about DEI – it’s an excuse to discriminate and allow unlimited “victim-hood”. I fits the narrative to divide our nation, rather than unite.

  7. This is typical Steve Brown hyper-partisanship. Pick a topic that the other side is handling poorly and then vilify the topic itself.

    I agree with Steve that many local governments are sniffling growth by demanding outcome equality, but the answer isn’t to abandon the basic tenets of DEI. Rather, Fayette County should focus upon equal opportunities for all in a colorblind, religion-blind, gender-blind, etc. manner. Any legitimate business wants to locate in a community that gives everyone equal opportunities. This is not fostered by quotas, but by example.

    I’m hopeful that we will elect local government officials who eschew the Gavin-esque California barriers that Steve describes without becoming the DeSantis-esque Florida that reactionarily erects other barriers in the service of picking their own winners and losers.

    DEI shouldn’t be transformed into a good vs. evil debate just because some misapply it. Implemented properly, it can be a grand asset to any community.

    • The DEI crap is already creeping in. There’s at least several high school classrooms in schools here in the Peachtree City area that have a rainbow pride flag on display in the classroom………which is ridiculous and should not be allowed. We should allow only two flags – the American flag and the Georgia flag.

        • I’m not opposed to it….you do you, boo. Just don’t cram it down the throats of our children. You probably don’t want a crucifix, the Jewish star of David, or the Islamic crescent on display in our schools, do you?

          • Wing – Properly implemented, I believe that equality programs can be educational instead of dictatorial.

            And you are correct, I don’t wish to see religious symbols in government-sponsored areas. However, I am constantly faced with seeing “In God We Trust” on all of my currency, and I must live with the blatant unfairness that my fellow citizens are allowed to deduct contributions to their cronies in religious groups.

            I think these are blatantly unfair and unconstitutional, but I’ll not jump up and down and deride others for legislating their myths into the mint or the tax code. Sometimes one must make adjustments when living in a pluralistic society.

          • you don’t have to worship the same God that our founders did….but you better be extremely grateful that our founders did worship the one God and desire to build a society based on Biblical principles. It set the foundation for the greatness and benefits we all enjoy to this day. As God’s influence wanes, you see the hearts of men turn darker and darker and we are losing the greatness we once enjoyed here in this country. You may not agree with it….but you’ve benefitted greatly from it.

          • I am very grateful for the amalgamation of Christians, deists, and students of the Enlightenment that founded our country. I see few parallels between these founders and the Evangelical Christians today. The founders placed the highest value on the character and morals of their leaders. Today’s Evangelicals easily ignore the most blatant misbehavior, hatefulness, and immorality of their candidates for transactional benefits and justify this by falsely suggesting that they have only bad vs. worse alternatives.

            Christian congregations are growing in many parts of the world today, but, as you point out, are declining in the U.S. I see the U.S. church’s preference for power over piety as a salient factor in this decline.

            Perhaps you believe your god has so little power that he must champion an immoral autocrat to be successful. As you can divine by dwindling church attendance, many aren’t interested in so impotent a deity.

            If Evangelical Christians want to establish a theocracy and cram their beliefs down everyone’s throats, they will continue to pursue power regardless of the compromises. If instead, they hope to evangelize people into their faith, they will pursue the golden rule.

            Of course, this ship has already sailed.

        • Fiction – We’re not opposed to equality. In fact, that’s the goal. MLK had it right.

          Unfortunately, DEI picks winners and losers based on the number of “checkbox” attributes one has, rather than merit and character. It must go.

          Above, you say DEI is just improperly implemented. What would you do differently to make DEI a “grand asset”?

          • Hi Penny – I don’t think that we are that far apart. I would like to see any program (DEI or otherwise) work to give everyone equal opportunities to succeed in this capitalistic, democratically elected republic. DEI ostensibly was created to create a level playing field. Obviously, it has been implemented poorly. That doesn’t change the aspirations of its stated goals.

            Steve uses it as shorthand to to vilify others. Like the the “woke” debate we were having on another thread, just because some have misidentified or poorly implemented a concept, it doesn’t follow that the original concept was bad.

            We have a great many people on either end of the political spectrum who do not view divergence from their own idea of proper American culture to be legitimate. This is bad in both extremes. However, most Americans are quite tolerant of diversity in thoughts and beliefs and are willing to live and let live. Steve’s columns attempt to exaggerate the polarization by highlighting divergences rather than the many agreements.

    • “…the answer isn’t to abandon the basic tenets of DEI. Rather, Fayette County should focus upon equal opportunities for all in a colorblind, religion-blind, gender-blind, etc. manner.”

      You seem to be unaware of the basic idea behind DEI because you tell us not to abandon it, but then in the next sentence you advocate abandoning it. DEI is *not* compatible with the “colorblind, religion-blind”, etc. community that you envision. I

  8. Well said Steve, you are spot on with your assessment. This “shift” is frightening at best and has the potential for total destruction. At worst, this devisiveness could cause war within our pretend borders. America can do better.