Michigan’s first gay Jim Toy dies on New Years Day at 91

LANSING, MI. – Republicans at Michigan House tossed their hats on a nationwide debate on critical race theory on Tuesday, passing Bill 5097, which would prohibit the teaching of “implicit racial or gender stereotypes” in K-12 schools.

The legislation was passed 55-0 after Democrats refused to vote on the bill because not all lawmakers who wanted to speak had the opportunity to do so. Representative Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit) was one of those lawmakers.

“The sad reality is that racial stereotypes continue to exist at different levels of our society,” Rep. Johnson said in a Press release. “Preventing our students from recognizing stereotypes and their impact only allows them to circulate more within our institutions and harm the very people this bill seeks to help. “

“As a black woman, this is not the first time people have tried to silence me,” she said. “Attempts to silence black women have been happening for generations – something Republicans want to erase from the history books with this bill – but know this: I will not back down. I will not allow Republicans to cut my voice off. I won’t let Republicans get away with the whitewash story. I will not stop fighting for students and educators in Detroit and across Michigan as Republicans try to keep kids ignorant of racial injustice and condemn teachers for doing the right thing.

Representative Johnson told the Los Angeles Blade that she was given an apology as to why she couldn’t speak that day, namely that her name was not on the speakers list that day. “So what?” she said. “We had a lot of time. They could have taken the experience and the words and knowledge of a black woman who knows. But they chose not to because they chose to shut me down.

The Los Angeles Blade has reached out to Michigan Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth for comment on Rep. Johnson, but did not receive a response before posting this article.

The reason Representative Johnson wanted to stand up and speak was simple: “I’ve heard too many disgusting lies about how race is taught,” she said.

She remembers one person, in particular, who told her that white children came home thinking they were bad because of their race.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said. “Because in my mind, I’m like, ‘Oh, my God. These people continue to perpetuate lies, and some of them are credible. Why? Because they come from people you love.

Michigan’s bill is similar to bills introduced and passed across the country that seek to limit or prohibit teaching about race and gender. Republicans argue that these bills are necessary to prevent students from dividing. But Democrats believe these bills deprive students of learning the real history of the United States.

Many of these bills target critical race theory, college-level analysis, and an academic movement examining the intersection of race and law in the United States. Proponents of critical race theory fear that students will learn that all white people are oppressors. But according to the Brooking Institution, it does nothing like that.

Simply put, Critical Race Theory asserts that America’s social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, the education system, the labor market, the housing market, and the health care system) are steeped in racism. grounded in laws, regulations, rules and procedures that lead to differential results by breed, ”wrote Rashawn Ray, Principal Investigator at Brookings.

The bans also target LGBTQ + education. School boards across the country are banning LGBTQ-affirming books like Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which uses the pronouns e / em / eir. Kobabe recently wrote a Washington post Op-Ed informing readers about the importance of books like eirs.

“The only place I had access to information and stories about transgender people was in the media, mainly in books,” Kobabe wrote.

Representative Johnson admits her knowledge of LGBTQ + issues is limited because she is not part of the community. She is, however, the mother of a gay son and says she supports the community.

“I’m not the best person to talk about it,” she said. “And I wouldn’t want to tell you anything out of the blue, because that wouldn’t be fair.”

“I’m the kind of lawmaker to whom if I don’t know the answer, I won’t answer. And I’m not going to tell you anything, ”she said.

Rep Johnson wants more people to understand that you can’t speak on behalf of another group if you’re not part of that community.

“It seems so basic that I can’t speak for LGBT people, but I can support LGBT efforts,” she said. “We won’t always agree on everything, but overall I agree. I support LGBT people – I am an LGBT mother. And like any mother, we don’t always agree with our children on everything. So if this concept is so easy for us to understand, I wonder why it is so hard for white people to understand that they cannot speak for black people and tell us what it is.

Time and time again, Rep. Johnson tries to reason with her colleagues across the aisle. She said she recently approached a Republican woman, whom she decided to keep anonymous, about cutting her microphone on the floor of the house.

“Have you ever been fired as a woman? Rep. Johnson remembers asking him.

“Oh, no,” she replied, according to Rep. Johnson. “I was lucky to know that I was never fired.”

“What do you think of the way I was fired yesterday? Rep. Johnson asked the woman.

“She never answered the question,” said Rep. Johnson.

She asked the question because “if they despise black women like that, I can only imagine how they treat their own women.”

Representative Johnson also made it clear that not all Republicans are racist or sexist. “Unfortunately, too many of them are following their leadership,” she said.

In the end, she isn’t surprised that she wasn’t allowed to talk about Bill 5097 on the floor.

“The experiences black women face are not new,” Johnson said. “The police have tried to silence Sandra Bland’s voice, but we will not stop calling for justice. The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission tried to silence black women in a hearing designed to let them speak, but we won’t stop calling for a fair process and cards. They might try to silence me and other black women, but we’re not going anywhere. I will continue to be the voice of the people of my district and this state. “

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Norma A. Roth