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Elon Musk Slammed For Controversial Comments On Diversity In Aviation Programs

Musk asserted that aviation programs at HBCUs will produce less qualified pilots because of diversity programs designed to equal the playing field for Black pilots.

Controversial Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk has once again taken aim at diversity, equity, and inclusion – this time, in aviation programs. He suggested that a catastrophic plane crash might be necessary to end what he referred to as a “crazy policy of diversity and inclusion” in the field.

Expressing concerns about the impact on the qualifications of pilots from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) like Delaware State University and Texas Southern University, the X/Twitter owner’s remarks prompted a response from Delaware State University President Dr. Tony Allen.

In a letter, Allen calling the allegations “unoriginal in their amplification of antiquated racial tropes” and highlighting the historical contributions of their aviation program. Allen said he felt it was necessary to correct Musk via a letter. Allen also told WBOC, “It took me a little while to think about writing that letter actually because I didn’t want to dignify Mr. Musk’s comments, and then I thought about the history of our aviation program.”

Willie Brown, of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, (UMES) also spoke to WBOC, and placed emphasis on the collaboration between the two universities. “We want to let Elon Musk know that HBCU aviation programs are here to work together, and we pride ourselves on partnerships,” Brown said.

Allen said that his comments were motivated in part by a desire that students at the university and in the aviation program in particular, understand that the university had their backs, saying, “It’s really about conversation and context, and when I see those things not happening — both talking out of context or not willing to have a conversation — I do see it as my responsibility and the university’s responsibility to speak out,” Allen continued.  “I did not want his (Musk’s) comments to reflect poorly on [our students] in any way. I wanted them to know that their university and university president stood behind them.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration their HBCU Initiative Program and its associated committee was created to help spotlight FAA programs that would benefit students enrolled at HBCUs. Alongside Delaware State University,  the other partner institutions are Hampton University, Elizabeth City State University, Langston University, Florida Memorial University, Tuskegee University, Tennessee State University, Texas Southern University, UMES, and Morgan State University.

NAACP National President Derrick Johnson reminded the tech billionaire on Twitter that his sheltering of white supremacist groups and platforms on X/Twitter is much more of a problem than a diverse group of pilots are, writing underneath Musk’s tweet.

“Reminder to Elon Musk: providing a home for the proliferation of hate speech and white supremacist conspiracy theories kills people. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion cultivates a more inclusive society. They are not the same. We are not the same,” Johnson tweeted.

Marc Morial, president/CEO of the National Urban League, addressed the Tesla co-founder via a statement given to NBC News that his company was under investigation due to complaints of racism at Tesla. Morial characterized Musk’s statements as “abhorrent and pathetic” before stating, “Musk’s company not only refused to investigate complaints or take any steps to end the abuse, it viciously retaliated against employees who complained or opposed the abuse.”

Morial added, “The only thing anyone needs to hear from Musk about diversity in the workplace is an apology.”

In addition to Johnson and Morial’s statements, United Airlines released a statement of their own, emphasizing that every pilot they employ must meet the same rigorous requirements. “United is proud to maintain the highest standards in our pilot hiring, training, and safety practices. Every aviator who joins our ranks must meet them. No exceptions.”

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