Richard Carroll Denied Membership in Black Caucus

Richard Carroll, the Green Party’s only state legislator in Arkansas, sought to join the state legislature’s Black Caucus and was denied. From an editorial in the Feb. 13 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

It’s not easy being Green, but white’s harder if you want to be a member of the Legislature’s Black Caucus.

OK, so the wordplay is a little lame. So is state Rep. Joyce Elliott’s suggestion that discrimination on account of race is OK when the perpetrators are black and the victim is white. And she a Democrat, too.

Actually, “lame” is the kindest thing that could be said about it.

Here’s the deal. Rep. Richard Carroll is the Arkansas General Assembly’s only Green Party member. He is white, but his wife is black and he represents a predominantly black district in North Little Rock. Recently, he asked to join the Legislature’s Black Caucus because, he said, he wanted to better represent and understand the views of his constituents.

The caucus said no. Carroll is welcome to attend the group’s meetings and even voice his opinions, but he won’t be allowed a vote there.

The high-minded Elliott, whose many honors include recognition from the ACLU as a great civil libertarian, patiently-and nonsensically-explained to a reporter that “all discrimination is not bad. You can discriminate about whether you are going to drink four beers or 10 beers. I would say that’s good discrimination.” She went on to claim that excluding white lawmakers is a legitimate form of discrimination because black legislators need to join with others of “common cause.” Never mind that Carroll’s district was found to be 65 percent black in the last census.

  1. Ross Levin says:

    Other stuff about Carroll

    Check out this from IPR: http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2009/02/rep-richard-carroll-introduces-bill-on-religious-freedom/

    And my comment about where introducing a bill that would lift a ban on Athiests in government has gotten Carroll media attention (I also talk about a bill he introduced that would help the hearing impaired):
    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2009/02/rep-richard-carroll-introduces-bill-on-religious-freedom/#comments

  2. Ronald Hardy says:

    Great stuff, Ross! Richard Carroll is doing good things.

    I see Indecision 08 picked it up:
    http://blog.indecision2008.com/2009/02/18/godless-arkansasians-may-soon-be-allowed-to-vote/

  3. Ross Levin says:

    The Washington Post, Newsweek, and US News and World Report all had stuff on their blogs about it as well.

  4. The courageous Mr. Carroll is experiencing discrimination based upon color, all right. But it is not because he is white — it is because he is Green.

    The Congressional Black Caucus may include the occasional Republican, but it is by-and-large the instrument of the Democratic Party.

    Mr. Carroll is going through the same thing that I, or any Green, could expect to encounter upon winning a seat in the U.S. Congress.

    Communications, informational, procedural and logistical structures that have always been institutional, will be re-cast as partisan for the specific purpose of locking a Green congressmember out. Not to mention that the Legislature will immediately begin efforts to gerrymander the district right out from under that brave soul.

    Greens eyeing any federal office must expect this and prepare his/her counter-efforts in advance.

    We have never really been allowed into the ring, and so it may have never yet occurred to us, that the fight is not won with the first punch. Green candidates need to be scrappy, hardened, experienced provocateurs who’ll be as ruthless as the forces amassed against them (subject to ethics and law, of course).

  5. Correction:

    With respect to Mr. Carroll, I should have referred to the Black Caucus of the Arkansas State Legislature, of course. Sorry for the ambiguity.

    Nevertheless, any Green elected to the U.S. Congress should expect the same or similar from the Congressional Black Caucus.

  6. Green Ferret says:

    It’s certainly a tricky issue, but the Black Caucus’ exclusion of Richard Carroll may be less sinister than it seems. Rep. Cao from Louisiana recently had a similar experience of being elected in a majority black district, then being rejected from the Congressional Black Caucus.
    After all, neither Carroll nor Cao is black. We could debate the propriety of racial caucuses, but if you accept the premise of a black caucus, then you should probably also accept that membership can be limited to black people.

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