Sen. Lena Taylor was surprised that the caucus allowed white legislators to participate.
I don't want to use the A-word, but isn't this kind of racist?
If you want to have a minority group, that's your business. Though no one would be allowed to set up a white caucus. But once you invite white members, then giving them only partial membership based on race takes this into seriously racist territory.
Wisconsin now has 12 legislative districts where a majority of constituents are racial or ethnic minorities, and yet just six are represented by minority legislators.
That partly explains why this year, for the first time, the Legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus is inviting white lawmakers who represent minority-majority districts to participate in meetings, though it’s stopping short of granting them full membership with the ability to vote on actions the group might take.
Would it grant them full membership if they could find a minority ancestor? What blood quantum level do they need to have to win full voting rights?
If they're 1/8 Latino, will they be able to vote?
There’s also discussion among the traditionally Democratic group about whether Rep. Jessie Rodriguez, R-Franklin, whose district is 85 percent white, should be invited.
Is he one of those "White Hispanics"?
And what are the criteria here? They're inviting white representatives of minority districts but not giving them full voting rights and debating over inviting minority representatives for white districts.
We're not exactly anywhere near post-racial territory here.
At its next meeting the caucus also will continue to discuss membership issues, including whether to invite Rodriguez, the third Latino member and the first Republican Latina to serve in the Legislature.
So being a Republican might remove her minority status to the liberal way of thinking.
The district represented by Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, was majority white when he was elected in 2005. But it is now two-thirds minority, and Kessler, who is white, said he is pleased the caucus is opening its doors to white lawmakers. He said he plans to be an active participant.
Finally, white people can have non-voting membership in a minority caucus. The progress here is amazing. Any day now they'll even let white people vote.
I can't wait for that majority-minority America. It's going to be awesome.
Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, a former caucus chairwoman, did not take part in the October meeting and was surprised that the caucus planned to allow white legislators to participate.
“People who are black, Republicans or Democrats, come to the black caucus of state legislators,” Taylor said. “It’s not based on their district, it’s based on their race.”
Oh come on Lena, it's not like anyone is letting those crackers vote.
In the 1990s, the Congressional Black Caucus was criticized for booting Rep. Gary Franks, a black Republican from Connecticut, after labeling him a mole for the GOP. In 2007, the caucus was criticized again for affirming it would include only black members after Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, the state’s first Jewish representative who represented a majority black district, tried to become a member.
No Jews, Dogs or Republicans allowed.
Steve Cohen did claim he was an honorary black man because he thought he had an illegitimate daughter and drives an old car.
Rep. Steve Cohen explained a tweet in which he said a black man called him black by saying, "My constituents don't look at me as a white person."
On Monday, Cohen, 64, explained the tweet, saying: "I drive an 86 Caddy, a lot of African-Americans drive old cars, Cadillac's. It dies, twice in two weeks. [the late blues guitarist] Albert King [sang he] didn't have bad luck, had no luck at all. I'm having no luck, he [the tow driver] drives me, we ditch the car, I come out and tell him the story. I said I've had a tough week. Daughter, great, find out it's not daughter, blitz. Say something nice to reporter, get attacked. It's been hell. He goes, man, you're black! I took it as a compliment."
"I hear it in Memphis all the time. My constituents don't look at me as a white person, they say, 'You're one of us,'" Cohen said. "It's a wonderful thing; District 9 is a microcosm of how America can work. Blacks can and do embrace me as their congressperson. That's what America needs to do in all cases. White people in some areas have not accepted Barack Obama yet. That's part of the race dialogue we need to have."
I'm confused. Do white people need to accept Obama as a white person the way that black people accept Steve Cohen as a black person? But despite not having an illegitimate daughter and driving an old car, the Caucus said no thanks to Steve Cohen.
Like Wisconsin, other states’ black caucuses include Latino and other minority membership. The National Black Caucus of State Legislators, which lists the Wisconsin Black and Latino Caucus as an affiliate, describes its membership as “over 600 African American state legislators.” The organization’s offices were closed last week, so it couldn’t be determined how many other state caucuses allow participation by white legislators.
One day, perhaps we'll live in a country that will allow full participation. But for the moment, let them be satisfied with being allowed to just attend meetings. Everyone knows white people are inferior anyway.
Barnes acknowledged if Wisconsin’s Black and Latino Caucus gave white legislators from minority-majority districts the ability to vote on caucus matters, it could diminish the voice of minority members.
And we wouldn't want to disenfranchise anyone. Except white people.