White men can be allies to Black women, but not in this case.
The viral video of Arkansas State Sen. Stephanie Flowers, a Democrat, telling her all-white Republican colleagues that their priorities don’t include the lives of Black children and Black men, has not changed a thing.
During a Senate committee hearing last week on white conservative Arkansas’ “stand your ground” proposal regarding gun policy, Flowers, an attorney, said the proposal would disproportionately affect Blacks. The legislation would allow a person to use lethal force when responding to a perceived threat, instead of just walking away. In opposition, Flowers used the example of Trayvon Martin, the news reports everyday and her own experience as a Black mother of a 27-year-old son.
“I’m talking about my son’s life!” she shouted. “And I’m talking about the lives of Black kids!”
Flowers wound up voting on the prevailing side in a 4-3 decision to oppose the bill. Republican senator, John Cooper, strayed from his white conservative peers, making a vote in opposition. He later tried but failed to expunge it.
Republican colleagues are publicly turning against her saying her speech was uncivil.
Sen. Bob Ballinger, who introduced the bill, called Flowers a “friend” but called her “threatening” on social media.
Chairman Alan Clark, who also calls Flowers a “friend,” responded to her remarks saying Flowers “needed to go be upset somewhere else.”
Flowers voted in favor of it. Ballinger did not vote on the racial impact statement, according to records, but he did vote against paid maternity leave for state employees.
Clearly neither have much concern about the plight of Blacks or mothers.
Clark said that he understood that Flowers was “emotional” and that she would not be penalized for her remarks during the debate.
Ballinger called her remarks “not justifiable.” Others Republicans said Flowers’ use of profanity was an issue and she should be censored. During the debate, Republican senators also mentioned that debate time should be cut down.
If there was ever a platform where a Black mother needed to be upset and heard, it’s in a room full of lawmakers. And though Flowers, in that room was a senator, a colleague, and a “friend,” she was dismissed.
She equated their requests for her to make remarks “quickly” to them shooting her.
This week she stood behind her words:
“I don’t apologize for my expression, my passion and my emotion,” she said.
“My outburst and the words I used? God will judge me and I will accept his judgment. I hope he’s well pleased.”
Though the video of Flowers went viral, receiving the support of people around the country, senators still plan to revive the bill again this week for another vote.
While the three Democrats on the committee voted yes, neither Gov. Asa Hutchinson nor Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, both Republicans, have publicly endorsed or opposed the bill.
A spokesman for Rutledge said in an email Thursday that the attorney general was “monitoring” the bill and working to ensure its language is “unambiguous.” Hutchinson plans to continue to meet with law enforcement over the bill.
This dismissal of Flowers happened in a state that contributes little to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP for Arkansas is lower than the national average: From 2017:Q2 to 2018:Q2, Arkansas GDP growth has been 1.7%, compared to 2.9% for the U.S.
In 2018, the state of Arkansas, ranked 49th, had a lower GDP per capita ($42,454
) than the U.S. average ($62,390).