In this so-called post-racial era in America after the 2008 election and 2012 re-election of Barack Obama as president, people abhor being called racist or even the thought that their actions are racist — even when they are.
A severe backlash is what Rep. Valdenia Winn of Wyandotte County is facing from her colleagues in the Kansas Legislature for her testifying in March against a bill to repeal a 10-year-old law, enabling some immigrants to pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities in the Sunflower State, my Star colleague Mary Sanchez reports. Never mind that Kansas, the reddest of the red states, voted twice against electing Obama to be the first African-American president in the nation’s history.
Immigration reform also is a hot national and state concern with Republicans taking a more offensive approach to newcomers and the president’s actions to help them. Never mind that if it weren’t for Latinos moving to Kansas, the state’s population would crater more than it has, and its industries — particularly agriculture — would suffer from not having enough workers.
Winn, a Democrat and history professor at Kansas City Kansas Community College, tried to define just how offensive the Republican-controlled Legislature’s bill truly is, saying at a March 19 committee hearing: “This is a racist, sexist, fear-mongering bill. I want to apologize to the students and their parents whose lives are being hijacked by the racist bigots who support this bill because this bill is not an act of....”
Rep. John Barker objected saying, “She just referred to this committee as racist.”
The offensive bill has been tabled. That’s the good news.
The bad news is nine legislators signed a complaint to censure Winn for “offensive, reprehensible” language” even though she was right, and what she said was tame and restrained compared to what still needs to be expressed. A hearing on the censure complaint is today.
What, indeed, is the matter with Kansas?