By Senator Lena C. Taylor
These days, I can barely catch my breath. One far reaching legislative decision or policy proposal after another has been introduced/passed. Whether at the state or federal level, many of these initiatives have far reaching consequences, with harmful implications.
One outsized note is the recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. An activist court, with an axe to grind, conservatives have made good on careers dedicated to dismantling Affirmative Action in Higher Education. A recent article in MPR News, stated that researchers from Georgetown University ran simulations to see what would happen if race was removed from college admissions. They found that a national ban would decrease the ethnic diversity of students at selective colleges, unless there was “a fundamental redesign of the college admissions system,” which would include eliminating legacy and athletic recruitment, among other things.
In the simulations, removing race and relying on different combinations of high school grades, test scores, or social-economic indicators did not yield more ethnically diverse classes. Two steps back.
Further in a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a fictious business, not yet started by a website content creator, could legally discriminate against a fake same-sex couple, on religious grounds. Sounds confusing, it should. Asking how the U.S. Supreme Court justified hearing this case, in which the plaintiff lied about the details of the complaint? Get in line. Many want an answer to that question and what should be done to the perjury-ridden plaintiff. Two steps back.
New laws on transgender bathroom use, in Florida, are now punishable by a misdemeanor charge and up to a $1,000 fine. Mississippi’s majority-white Republican-dominated House of Representatives, earlier this year, passed a bill that would create a new court system with state government-appointed judges, utilize state police in the predominantly-black City of Jackson, and defacto bypass the election results of their voters. Then again, Mississippi was the last state to formally abolish slavery in 2013. Two steps back.
We don’t fair much better in Wisconsin, where the GOP-controlled legislature has decided that any policy or program that promotes a level-playing field, equity, or celebrate differences, should be added to one of the seven deadly sins. We’ve had a variety of forced cultural assimilation periods in the United States. We’ve worked hard to restore the heritage, cultural practices, physical appearance, and even property to impacted groups. Yet, here we go again, under the guise of “reverse discrimination.” Two steps back.
Gun laws continue to be relaxed across the nation, while the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) reports that in 2021, 48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S. A year ago, we curtailed, or all but eliminated, reproductive freedoms, for American women, in GOP-led states. Some abortion laws, that now govern women, predate state constitutions. Two steps back.
Frustrated by losing legislative ground, I am forced to remember the words of Muhammad Ali, “I have learned to live my life one step, one breath, and one moment at a time, but it was a long road. I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace, and understanding. I am still learning.” Good public policy, advocacy, and redress starts with one step.