ROUNDUP: Doctors, Business Industry, Faith Leaders, Professors, Elected Officials, Racial Justice Advocates Oppose HB 544 Language
CONCORD, NH – Medical professionals, business leaders, faith communities, professors, state and local officials, and racial justice leaders are opposed to the inclusion of the White Supremacy Protection Act (also known as HB 544) in the state budget. This bill language would prevent New Hampshire from acknowledging and addressing systemic racism and sexism, creating more barriers to a healthy, safe, and equitable New Hampshire.
NH Business Review – BIA Announces Opposition to ‘Divisive Concepts’ Bill: “We cannot support language where the state is in a position to dictate to private enterprises what they can and cannot discuss with their employees,” Roche said. “Putting this language into statute would be a black eye for New Hampshire,” he added. “It would put the national spotlight on the Granite State, and not in a good way. The issues of gender and race are important to most employers around the state, and many of our members have already implemented diversity training that reflects their corporate culture,” said BIA President Jim Roche. “This controversial language sends the wrong message to employers who recognize the importance of open, honest and yes, sometimes difficult and uncomfortable conversations with their employees about the issue of race and gender discrimination. To prohibit some employers from engaging in these discussions, as the language from HB 544 does, will leave them vulnerable to race and/or gender discrimination litigation,” Roche added.
Valley News – New Hampshire Bill HB 544 is a Dangerous and Slippery Slope: “I’ve taught sociology at public and private universities for more than 40 years. Much of that teaching has involved presenting students with data on inequality in the United States, often from U.S. government sources, showing, for example, that on average African Americans have lower incomes and get less formal education, suffer higher rates of unemployment and incarceration, and receive worse health care than white Americans. Students often ask the obvious question, “What accounts for these racial disparities?” The answer is complicated and involves a discussion of time-worn debates about racial inequality that span the ideological spectrum, from claims about white supremacy, impoverished Black culture, the historical legacy of slavery, institutional racism, implicit bias, white privilege and more … Introducing, discussing and debating these concepts of racism inevitably “propagates” them — it introduces them to those unfamiliar with them. In short, HB 544 comes perilously close to violating the principles of academic freedom, free speech and reasoned discussion of some of the most difficult yet important subjects of our time. I wonder whether the bill, if passed, would prevent discussing the issues surrounding the George Floyd murder case in my classes. HB 544 is a dangerous and very slippery slope.” — John Campbell, Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College
Concord Monitor – Our Turn: HB 544 Codifies Culture of Oppression: “Unfortunately, HB 544 and the advocacy around the bill, are a direct result of what is happening in our country — a reactive, dangerous, and fragile backlash to preserve “a traditional way of life” from those who have historically benefited from inequity and systemic racism. This bill has no place in New Hampshire, where we have always prided ourselves in not allowing divisive national discourse to take hold…. Frankly, HB 544 is also unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible. This legislation is the close model of an executive order from former President Donald Trump that was struck down in federal court for constitutional violations. There is no question that if this bill becomes law, it will be subject to court challenges, resulting in costly litigation and legal fees on the taxpayer’s dime.” — Senators Sue Prentiss (D-Lebanon), Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton), and Rebecca Perkins-Kwoka (D-Portsmouth)
Seacoast Online – What Frightens Me Most About HB 544: “Racism is an everyday experience for most people of color. It’s not simply a matter of prejudice but a matter of structured disadvantages that reach across America – across our neighborhoods – from dealing with the police, to being food-insecure, to being disproportionately affected by COVID-19…. To confront such inequities we not only need a revolution in our priorities and a re-evaluation of our values; we need to mobilize ourselves to understand that what’s in the past is in the present, that justice is not color-blind, that being created equal does not mean equal opportunity – that to realize all that takes work, humility, and an open mind.” — Robert Azzi, photographer and writer, Exeter
NHPR – Bill Aims To Ban Teaching About Systemic Racism; Doctor Calls It ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’: “The CDC just in the last week came out and said racism is a public health threat and this idea is not new. And structural racism and implicit bias, which HB 544 tries to comment on really are two sides of the same coin. And they are a stain of our country’s slaveholding past that have perpetuated the modern day. And I felt that this bill, if adopted, really would set our state back quite a bit. And as the business community has said, it would cast a national spotlight on our state, not in a good way, and it would be a black eye for New Hampshire.” — Dr. Nirav Kapadia, radiation oncologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Public News Network – Groups Oppose Ban in Teaching Nation’s History of Systemic Racism: “The way the language is written, the powers that be in the Legislature who are in control get to decide what is deemed divisive,” James McKim [President of the Manchester NAACP] pointed out. “So it’s broader than race, it’s broader than gender, it’s about principle and about our democracy…. From the law-enforcement perspective, from a health-care perspective, from a housing perspective, there are bills that are in the Legislature right now that would make significant progress in healing our divisions.”
Statement from Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director, Granite State Progress:
“Those pushing this bill language are seeking to block anti-racism work and other efforts to build a safe, healthy, and equitable New Hampshire. Particularly now, after a year of reckoning and sustained mobilization around racial injustice, and as the COVID-19 public health pandemic lays bare the disproportionate health and economic impacts on people of color and women, this bill creates more barriers to adequately responding. The passage of this language is a direct result of the failure of Chris Sununu and his Republican majorities in the State House to hold members accountable for spouting racist, antisemitic, and violent messages. It’s a damning indictment of the necessity of anti-racism education that State Representatives currently in office have posted racist, anti-Semitic material and used ignorance as a self-defense. We must have honest conversations about our history and the ongoing impact of systemic racism and sexism on our society and institutions if we ever want to move forward to build a functioning multiracial democracy.”
Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems. Visit https://granitestateprogress.org/ to learn more.