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Smithsonian’s Latino Museum Moves in with Foe of Affirmative Action

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The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Latino has promised to clarify that its undergraduate internship is open to all ethnicities — not just Latino students — after the museum was sued last month by a prominent opponent of the affirmative action who accused the program of “pro-Latin American discrimination.”

In a settlement agreement filed Tuesday, the Smithsonian agreed to add a statement to its claim that internship for undergraduate internship students is “equally open to students of all races and ethnicities” and officials “should not not give preference or restrict selection based on race or ethnicity. »

The suit, filed in February by conservative legal activist Edward Blum’s American Equal Rights Alliance, alleged that the internship gave preference to Latino students, in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

“All students interested in this area of ​​museum studies should have the opportunity to compete for an internship without their race being a factor,” Blum said in a statement Wednesday. “Corporations, law firms, universities and cultural institutions must end these types of illegal and racist programs and policies. »

In an email, Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said she would “let the settlement speak for itself” and declined further comment. In court documents, the museum said it never considered race when reviewing internship applications.

Federal diversity efforts have come under fire in recent years, particularly since the Supreme Court last year upended race-conscious college admissions. In March, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Minority Business Development Agency, a federal program created 55 years ago to help minority-owned businesses access capital and government contracts, could not limit its services to only Blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities. Last year, the Small Business Administration was forced to overhaul a program for minority entrepreneurs after a Tennessee judge ruled that it could not admit businesses based on race.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of Diversity and Inclusion, created in 2020 to build a workforce reflective of the nation’s demographic makeup, was disbanded as part of the plan government spending bill promulgated on Saturday.

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