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Legislatively Speaking

GOP Emails on Racial Disparities Group
No Real Surprise

Lena C. Taylor

We’ve all seen the gag before. In Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip and animated television specials, good old Charlie Brown always gets played by Lucy van Pelt. Lucy tells Charlie Brown that she will hold a football. Knowing he can’t trust her, Charlie Brown refuses to kick the ball at first. After all, this joke has been running since 1952, when it first appeared in the comic strip.

Lucy coaxes Charlie Brown to trust her. Children and adults alike, cringe because they know that just as Charlie Brown runs up to kick the ball, Lucy is going to pull it away. Charlie Brown will go flying into the air and then fall flat on his back. Adding insult to injury, Lucy then chides Charlie Brown for trusting her. She basically blames him for trusting her to play fair. These days, I know just how Charlie Brown felt. Sickened. Frustrated. Confused. Angry.

It was those feelings that rushed to the surface, when I learned of the malfeasance of Republican leadership in the creation of the racial disparities task force. In a series of recently released emails, we learned that the legislator tapped to run the taskforce worried about it being a “political loser.” As our nation is going through a racial reckoning, hate groups are on the rise, and division between Americans have led to a revolt at the United States Capitol, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke was figuring out how to snatch away the football.

Steineke, who was appointed co-chair of the racial disparities task force, purportedly talked about slowing walking the work of the task force. While his fellow committee members signed up to score a win for the community, on issues of racial disparities, Steineke may have had other intentions. Task force members accepted the call to serve because they decided to be open to hope. They decided to trust the process and the people around the table. Only to have their faith snatched away.

Recognizing that this is Black History Month, we know that this nation has a long and storied history of maltreatment and differential responses based on race. We need to deal honestly with these issues, once and for all. Our response should not be based on political objectives, widening our voter base or making the other political party look bad. The revelations, of the intent behind the task force, came as no surprise. But I must admit, I join so many of you in wishing that Lucy would just hold the ball. Whether Charlie Brown’s kick was successful or not, we just want to see him get the chance. People of color are just looking for fairness and systems that they can trust.

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