Editorial | Liz Frank
On May 26, 2017, the Oklahoma State House was voting on a smoking cessation bill, SB 845 which seemed to be a revenue increasing bill, not a program to promote societal well-being. Representative Regina T. Goodwin, Democrat from District 73, which is made up of downtown Tulsa and the entire north side, was asking questions during the “Q&A” portion of the hearing when male Republicans can clearly be heard interrupting her and calling out “Debate.” “Debate” is called out in legislative sessions to imply that the speaker is going beyond “Q&A,” but is instead debating the issue, which is apparently reserved for another time.
Goodwin’s questions were no more combative than other Democratic Representatives’; the only difference is that she is a black woman.
In fact, Goodwin is the only African American woman in the Oklahoma House.
After the shocking exchange, Goodwin had to demand that the Speaker of the House call to order and stand up for her right to speak on the House floor, which he begrudgingly did after a painfully long silence.
Watch the entire exchange below:
As the incident was streamed, angry Oklahomans took to social media:
Representative Emily Virgin, of District 33, who is the Chair-elect of the House Democratic Congress, said this on her Facebook page:
The Oklahoma Democratic Party issued a statement saying that the Party “emphatically denounces the actions and behavior of House Republicans, during this morning’s session, to silence a well-respected Representative.”
The disrespect, sexism, but most important racism that Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives show that the Civil Rights Movement has only just begun and we have so much more hatred to fight.