Wisconsin’s All-White GOP Wants to Tell the Black Caucus Who They Can & Can’t Celebrate for Black History Month


WASHINGTON POST — To celebrate Black History Month, the Wisconsin legislature’s black caucus introduced a resolution naming a number of black leaders to honor. But Republican lawmakers weren’t happy with the list the black caucus provided and made some alterations, specifically removing Colin Kaepernick from the list. They also added a few names–Mandela Barnes, the state’s first black lieutenant governor, and Vel Phillips, the state’s first black secretary of state.

Democratic Rep. David Crowley, who was one of the original resolution’s authors, called the GOP’s actions “a textbook example of white privilege” and a “slap in the face,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

As for why the Republicans objected to his inclusion on this list, (white) Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said it was for “obvious reasons.”

Are those “obvious reasons” the fact that Kaepernick chose to peacefully protest systemic racism and the frequent murders of black people at the hands of the police? Because that doesn’t seem like an obvious reason to exclude him. More obvious, maybe is the fact that the reasons for his protest have gotten twisted, even by the president of the United States, to dishonestly paint him as “unpatriotic.” What’s obvious is that these white lawmakers feel entitled to tell Black leaders and Black Americans who they can and should celebrate, and that rabble-rousers won’t be tolerated.

Robin Vos, another white Republican, said, “I think it’s important to recognize the contributions of literally thousands and thousands of African Americans to our state’s history but also trying to find people who, again, bring us together. Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side.”

Kaepernick, who is from Milwaukee, made a donation of $25,000 to Milwaukee’s Urban Underground, a local youth-oriented non-profit. But he was primarily included in the list of black heroes for sparking a national discussion regarding police brutality. It’s not surprising that the state’s all-white GOP not only feels entitled to tell their black colleagues not to celebrate such a man, but has the power to force them to listen.

Ultimately, Republicans voted to remove Kaepernick’s name, and Democrats were left having to decide whether to vote against their own resolution or to vote for it, sans Kaepernick. The vote went to the (also all-white) Republican-controlled Senate Wednesday evening.

(via Washington Post, image: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)