Tennessee’s Black lawmakers have been growing in frustration over the last month.
Their attempt to raise awareness about systemic and structural racism have been ignored by their White co-workers, who are mostly Republican. Instead, they have focused on pushing culture wars and race-baiting proposals, according to the Associated Press.
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Democrat from Memphis and chair of the General Assembly’s Black Caucus says according to the Associated Press, “Anything that tells the truth about our history, for whatever reason, their fragility comes into play and it is exposed.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a truer statement.
Republican lawmakers would contend that they are focused on benefiting all people in Tennessee and don’t think their decisions have devalued anybody.
From the Associated Press:
The air of suspicion intensified after the General Assembly unveiled plans earlier this month to split Nashville into three congressional districts, effectively making it easier to flip a Democratic-controlled district, which critics say will dilute the Black vote. GOP supermajorities in the state Senate and House passed the map, and it appears unlikely it will draw objections from Gov. Bill Lee even as it faces threats of legal challenges.
The separate resolution filed by Republican Rep. Bud Hulsey called for the Legislature to reprimand The Associated Press for its investigation that revealed a deep-rooted culture of racism and discrimination in nearly every branch of the U.S. armed services despite multiple efforts to eradicate it.
Hulsey’s resolution declared racism inside the military “does not exist” and described such findings as “false charges,” arguing “racism in the U.S. military is uncommon and not a large-scale problem.”
Racism exists in pretty much any form of American society you can think of, so it should surprise no one if racism is prevalent in the military.
According to the Associated Press, for Rep. Vincent Dixie, a Black Democrat from Nashville, Hulsey’s declaration that racism inside the military “does not exist” is just the latest of many attempts by Republicans in the Tennessee legislature to censor Black voices on the history of racism in this country. Similar to the way the legislature banned teaching critical race theory in classrooms.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) aims to look at how racism has molded every part of American society such as public policy and institutions such as the justice system. It looks at how those policies and institutions were made to conserve the social, economic, and political inequalities between white people and people of color.
Republicans across the country and in Tennessee think CRT is going to make White people feel they are naturally racist and rewrite American history.
No, it’s just discussing the reality of this country and what it was built on.
More from the Associated Press:
Unlike legislative bills, resolutions are largely symbolic nonbinding gestures. Hundreds are filed each year by lawmakers, who usually go on to approve them without much debate. Sometimes, a few resolutions become political lightning rods, often representing ongoing tensions inside the Tennessee General Assembly.
In 2020, Republican lawmakers refused to advance a resolution memorializing a 17-year-old Black girl who was fatally shot in her car. The resolution was spiked after a GOP leader stood up to mention that police officers had said the woman was killed after she and a friend made a “small marijuana sale,” even though the sale has never been proved and her slaying remains unsolved.
The failure came amid global protests against racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died when a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck. Democratic lawmakers had hoped the energy would translate into meaningful changes on social and police reform.
That didn’t happen in Tennessee.
A year later, Parkinson filed a resolution declaring racism a public health threat and pledged that the General Assembly would “commit ourselves to openly and honestly addressing racism to end areas of disparity and inequity.” The resolution cleared initial hurdles but stalled after Republicans objected to implications of racial bias in the medical field.
Not only that, according to the Associated Press, a resolution honoring Martin Lutehr King Jr. Day was changed to take away any mention of the Poor People’s Campaign, a demonstration against Poverty that King was planning and has been resurrected by activists to end systemic racism. The version of the resolution with no mention of racism passed the house.
Sounds awfully similar to the professor in Florida whose Civil Rights lecture was canceled over concerns that it raised “red flags” that related to CRT.