A Black Missouri Republican received applause on the State House floor during a heated debate on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives when said he identifies as “an American” after his ethnicity was questioned Black Democrat.
Missouri State Rep. Justin Hicks (R) was bombarded with questions last week by State Rep. Marlene Terry (D) over House Bill 6, which opposes state funds for DEI initiatives for Missouri’s departments of agriculture, natural resources and conservation.
“Can I ask you what you identify as?,” Terry grilled Hicks. “Ethnicity.”
“I identify as an American,” Hicks responded, prompting applause.
discussed the incident and why he supports a bill opposing funding for DEI initiatives in the state government.
“This is actually ridiculous that I’m being questioned on issues of race,” Hicks said Monday.
“I think the left is kind of just lost, lost face of reality on what’s going on. We’ve moved beyond the issues of race here in America. This is not an issue of race anymore. And I think they look for words to divide us instead of unite us.”
State lawmakers on Thursday voted along mostly party lines in the Republican-controlled House in favor of a proposed $45 billion state budget that blocks funding for staff, vendors, consultants and programs “associated with diversity, equity (and) inclusion” throughout state government and public colleges and universities.
The prohibitions also apply to initiatives that promote “collective guilt,” “the concept that disparities are necessarily tied to oppression” and “intersectional or divisive identity activism,” among other concepts.
Supporters of the spending restrictions face a wall in the GOP-led Senate, where the powerful Appropriations Committee chairman has said he plans to strip the language from the budget.
“The state’s not in the business of giving preferential treatment to individuals based on their race, sex or national origin altogether,” Hicks said, arguing that funding should be based on merit instead.
Hicks said refusing to be identified by the color of his skin goes against Democrats’ efforts to divide Americans.
“I think we have to start with taking race out of the conversation altogether,” he said. “When you do that, you’re focusing on people’s merits and character and what they’ve done as far as this legislation goes.”
“We’re all equal under the eyes of the law… I think that’s why we have to look at it that way. So we do have to get away from looking at things in race and identity politics and look at it under one scope of what’s best for the country, what’s best for your state, and what’s best for Americans overall.”
Hicks concluded by saying he never thinks of people on the level of their race.
“I treat people like people,” he said.
–FNC | used with permission