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Is It Ignorance? Is It Racism? Both?

February 16, 2017


Rep. Diane St. Onge

The Kentucky House of Representatives voted 77-13 to send HB14/SB17/RS75, the “Blue Lives Matter” bill to the senate on Feb 13. You can read the text of the law here in PDF. It stinks. You can watch our representatives speaking their minds on the House floor here at KET. It was Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R) that proposed the law, modeled after a recent one enacted in Louisiana.

I had never attended a legislative session before, and I have a feeling there was more passion and interest in this one than is typical. Many of our Kentucky legislators spoke eloquently against the bill, and I praise them: legislators like Attica Scott (D), Darryl Owens (D), and Joni Jenkins (D).

It passed overwhelmingly despite moving remarks of legislators like Rep. George Brown, Jr., who spoke about the harassment he’d experienced directly at the hands of law enforcement.

Rep. Diane St. Onge (R) of Northern Kentucky’s district 63 gave a particularly tone-deaf explanation on the house floor for why she had voted for the bill after hearing many arguments against the bill. I now rebut her for educational and entertainment purposes. Her remarks are in bold.

“I voted in strong support of this measure. I think it is a very, very important measure as many of us, most of us, if not all of us in here strongly support the first responders that are listed here. Period.”

Here, there was a sort of accusation in her voice. For all the talk of this simply being a bill that supports first responders, there was a white reflexive defensiveness in the way she addressed this as if to say, “Whoa, whoa, this is all getting pretty ridiculous.” It was just way too much to ask that she have to hear about racism before doing something racist, and she wanted everyone to know how annoying it was.

Is her perception simply so limited as to not get that when a bill is colloquially known as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, it’s by definition an insult to Black Lives Matter?  That people are dying without justice and Bratcher and most of the Kentucky House of Representative’s answer to that is to legislate that attacks on police should be labeled and prosecuted as hate crimes?

Is she ignorant that The Civil Rights Act had to be implemented federally to attempt to stem the unceasing murder of Black people whose families saw no justice so that they had to continue living in fear of the terrorists who killed their loved one(s)?

Is it only ignorance that’s preventing her form seeing that it’s worrying how this very basic protection, inadequate as it is in many murders, especially those perpetrated by police, is going to be diluted to potentially include those very aggressors?

“It has nothing to do with supporting or not supporting a vote for Black Lives Matter. I would vote for Black Lives Matter. I would vote for blue lives matter, pink lives matter, yellow lives matter.”

Is Black Lives Matter a political party? Because I would vote for someone running under that ticket, but I sincerely doubt St. Onge would.

You have to know you can’t say “yellow life.” That’s racist as fuck.

What’s a pink life? Why is it that when we talk about considering Black people’s perspectives in the law that things have to go Fisher Price on everyone? One thing’s for sure. St. Onge needs to get back to basics.

“This, this has got to cease and it’s been alluded to by the gentleman from Hardin, the gentleman from Jefferson knows I supported him and continue to do so on Native Americans.”

What has got do cease? You calling people “pink” or “yellow” like we’re actually going to hell in a hand-basket right now and it’s full of Easter eggs?  “This” is something you won’t even acknowledge by name. It’s people speaking out against the white supremacy your sick and limited world is constructed around. You support the gentleman from Jefferson on Native Americans? Maybe ask them if they’re getting tired of being forced to hold up your white supremacy and start supporting Native Americans, not as a favor to someone, but because it’s untenable not to.

“I grew up in a country where 34 different countries were represented in the graduating class that I was in, in the high school that I was in. Black, yellow, all different countries, from all different countries, if you have to label it as that. All different religions.”

1.  You are straight-up confused here. Black is not a country. Yellow is not a country. It’s not okay to call people “yellow” anymore. It never was, but it’s not now. I refuse to explain this. Just. Stop. Calling. People. Yellow.

2.  Yes, we have to label it as that. You want to strip people of their identities formed in the face of the perverted white supremacy that allows someone with a mind as limited as yours to sit on the Kentucky State Legislature? You want everyone to be the same? You want Black people and other minorities to just stop making such a big deal of race? How about you stop condoning the state-sponsored enslavement and murder of Black people? Then we can talk about labels and how they’re bad.

“Christianity. Judaism. Muslim. Fundamentally, we have got to get back to we are all people.”

Ms. Subliminal manages to throw in a covert, fear-mongering word-pairing here: Muslim fundamentally. But “Muslim” isn’t a religion. It is to Islam what Christian is to Christianity.

We’ve got to get to we’re all people, not back to it. We’re never been there in this country and we’re not there yet, which is why I’m pointing out that your ignorance is so pronounced, it’s hard to tell whether you’re a racist or just dumb.

We are all humans and this this, this, this characterization of black, white, yellow, brown, red is is divisive. It’s been mentioned many times here, and I just wanted to, I know my time is running out, Mr. Speaker, but I just wanted to emphasize that this vote for all of us that are in here, and I will speak for the rest of the, um, those who have voted yes on this, that it does not mean that we are not for Black Lives Matter or any other color lives matter.

Who’s characterizing who? What’s divisive?  Is it divisive to send a message to targeted populations in our society that the laws protecting them are going to be adapted to protect their aggressors?  Is naming a law after a powerful movement that’s critical of police and the prison industrial complex a neutral stance to take?  I’m just going to give you the answer. It’s no. It’s not neutral. It’s a deliberate provocation that intends to characterize Black people as aggressors by associating crimes against police, which are decreasing, not increasing, with that movement.

There is no “any other color lives matter” that you’re antagonizing with this bill, and your vote for it, and your reasoning for that vote, are racist.

Get involved in fighting this law by signing this petition. Support Black Lives Matter Louisville’s opposition of this bill by checking out this website by their Police Accountability Team, informing yourself, and sharing on social media. Donate to Black Lives Matter Louisville.

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