An Ohio Democrat claimed last week that current House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and his two predecessors “ignored requests dating back several years” to address “a hostile work environment in the Ohio House.”
State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, said she has repeatedly asked for “racial equity and implicit bias training for lawmakers and staff,” but her requests have been “ignored by three different Speakers of the House.”
She pointed to state Sen. Steve Huffman’s (R-Tipp City) recent controversial comments, which got him fired from his job as an ER doctor, and the defeat of a bill that would have banned Confederate memorabilia from county fairs as evidence of a hostile environment.
“The fact remains that racism is the bedrock by which our country was built and it pervades our institutions, including the Ohio Legislature. A denial of that fact does not make it any less true and recent events prove how deeply engrained it truly is,” Howse said in a statement. “Just because some members of the majority party may have an aversion and discomfort to talking about race, this does not make the problem go away.”
She further criticized Republicans for refusing to “hold a single hearing” on a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis.
“As we have seen this past week with Sen. Huffman’s comments, implicit bias and racial prejudices persist in 2020. And we will never be rid of them if we do not first acknowledge and discuss them. My workplace is no different than most other workplaces in America and these problems did not just arise,” Howse added. “If recent events prove anything, it is the immediate need for these conversations to be happening in not only this workplace, but in all workplaces.”
She concluded by calling on the Ohio House and Senate to hold racial equity and implicit bias training for all lawmakers “as soon as possible.”
“Let’s turn what has happened recently into a teachable moment and grow as a more compassionate governing body together,” she said.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “State Rep. Stephanie Howse” by State Rep. Stephanie Howse.