Stuck in an ugly past
November 10, 2011
Last week the State Assembly debated a bill allowing more flexible enrollment for recipients of Talent Incentive Program grants that are awarded to economically disadvantaged college students each year.
State Rep. Peggy Krusick (D-Milwaukee) proposed an amendment eliminating race as a factor in qualifying for a grant. It is only mild hyperbole to say some of her colleagues lost their minds. Media accounts contained these quotes: “What it is is racism in its highest institutional level.”— Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee)
[This is a] “racist race to the bottom.”— Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison)
Every Democrat except Krusick voted against the amendment; that is, Democrats voted specifically to keep racial preferences. They lost, 57-34.
The next day, Rep. Leon Young (D-Milwaukee) issued a statement saying “I believe that the only recourse is for [Krusick] to remove herself from our Caucus.”
It turns out the contentious nine-hour debate was a complete waste of time. Last year, the Higher Education Aids Board (HEAB), quietly removed race as a qualifying standard for the grants after being prodded by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department,. Krusick and the rest of the Assembly didn’t know, since HEAB still hasn’t formalized the change. So HEAB gets in trouble over a noxious racial set-aside and tries to fix the problem hoping nobody will notice. Krusick tries to fix the problem out in the open, and her deranged colleagues call her racist.
Given that racial segregation was a legal reality as little as five decades ago, it’s remarkable that the years since have seen near-universal enthusiasm for the ideal of a color-blind society.
Sadly, we say “near-universal.” There’s still the Democratic Caucus of the Wisconsin State Assembly, where members are color-blind only in the sense that regardless of their own ethnicity, they still exploit race for political gain.