Elle Gianforte: LaMalfa needs to get out more
Last week, during the candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, both candidates for the District 1 Congressional seat were asked if they believed that systemic racism exists in America. The incumbent, Doug LaMalfa, said that it does not exist — and then rambled on about our flawed human nature and the Civil War.
I was going to send a letter to Congressman LaMalfa to enlighten him, perhaps recommend some reading material or credible news sources, but realized that it would probably be unread and certainly discarded. If I had written to him, it would be something like this:
Congressman, you need to get out more. Step out of your bubble and spend some time with people who aren’t just like you. If you did, those people would share stories about how they confront systemic racism every day: how they have to teach their children of color to take extra precautions when in a store so as to not be suspected of shoplifting, how they must make sure to act demure when approached by someone from law enforcement. You would also hear stories about difficulty getting loans or mortgages, renting apartments, or being considered qualified for certain jobs.
Actually, congressman, you can see plenty of examples of systemic racism practiced by your fellow Republican legislators and governors around the country. Just take a look at the organized efforts to disenfranchise communities of color through reductions in the number of polling places and drop boxes, voter intimidation, and curtailment of early and mail-in voting. Six in 10 Americans of color believe that their vote will not be counted in the upcoming election, and many are fearful about what they may find when they show up at their polling place. So yes, Congressman, systemic racism does exist in America, and sadly it is not hard to find.
Since you stated that systemic racism does not exist, you skirted your obligation to address what could be done about it. How easy for you as an elected official. But your constituents know all too well that it is both real and prevalent, and our course of action begins with not voting for candidates who choose to deny its very existence.
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