It’s simply astounding that, in the year 2020, there are still millions of people out there (ahem, Trump’s “base”) who don’t, won’t or can’t comprehend the many connections between long-standing structural racism in this country – something that is VERY real, despite their denial – and all kinds of problems, from education to housing to health outcomes to…you name it, basically.
Today, in the Virginia House of Delegates Rules Committee, we witnessed a stark example of this (see video, below), as Republican Del. Barry Knight astoundingly, embarrassingly attempted to argue that language in Del. Cia Price’s bill establishing Maternal Health Awareness Month – which refers to “the root cause of these disparities is longstanding structural racism, which has contributed to poorer health outcomes among communities of color” – was outdated, unnecessary, and actually trying to “stick a knife in there and twist it a little bit sometimes.” Knight added that he does agree with “heightened awareness on ladies and pregnancy and all this.” WTF?!? Is this guy in any way serious?!? Ugh.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, Knight blathered on, “mansplaining” obliviously:
“We’re talking about ladies who are having babies from this point forward. And that may have been the case in the past, but I just think this doesn’t do your resolution any good...I would like to ask for a line amendment on 29 after ‘white women, semicolon,’ strike ‘the root cause of these disparities is longstanding structural racism.'”
Not surprisingly, Knight’s ignorant, absurd amendment to remove the structural racism language was quickly and overwhelmingly defeated 13-5 (with the five Republican men all voting for it). But the best part came in the responses by Democratic Delegates Price, Charniele Herring and Delores McQuinn. See below for the video, as well as a few highlights:
Del. Price: “In 2016, which was not that long ago, there was a report from the University of Virginia that surveyed physicians…where it showed that physicians that were practicing in 2016 believed that African-Americans experienced pain in different ways than their white counterparts, which is scientifically proven to not be…There is also data that shows that…African-American women’s complaints of pain are not always listened to in the same ways as their white counterparts and have led to deaths. And so, while I would hope that racism and structural racism and its effects WOULD have been in the past, 2016 and today, it is still happening in our present and we are trying to fund initiatives that would counteract this…I can, in fact, say that structural racism has negative impacts on the health outcomes for African-American women.”
Del. Herring: “I…must remind those who want to strike this, that it’s easy to say that structural racism is putting the knife in and twisting it a bit…I want the person who recommend this, Del. Knight, to understand, African-American women have not had the kind of access to gynecological care that many white women have had, and I want you to understand that we have had family members not too long ago die because our grandmothers were not admitted to hospitals. So, it’s not like we had great-grandmothers and grandmothers who were able to see a physician. And it has affected in a lot of communities how we see healthcare and how we approach our doctors. It is real and it something we have to come to terms with. I know it’s painful, but so is the pain that African-American women have experienced and not having that kind of access to healthcare based simply on the color of their skin. And it’s not to say that white women have not experienced the same thing, because I dare say that poor white women have also been excluded from the equation. I ask that we not accept this amendment.”
Del. McQuinn: “What I clearly understood in this dialogue is that there needs to be a better understanding of what structural racism is. It is real…I’m hoping that, in the future, we will really sit down and have some honest dialogue, which would hopefully lead to better understanding of what structural racism is all about.”