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Racist language resolution passes in Michigan House

Rick Brewer

A resolution to condemn the use of racist language by lawmakers passed the Michigan House of Representatives Wednesday.

The move comes a week after state Representative Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) retweeted an image of a world map featuring several dark figures covering most of the global south and fewer white figures covering parts of North America, Europe, and Australia.

The image was captioned “The great replacement!” in reference to the racist theory that forces are conspiring to replace white people with non-white people.

Schriver has denied bigotry in tweets, and in a statement.

“Hating others because of race is sinful and stupid,” the statement posted to social media read.

But Schriver has doubled down on his seeming support of replacement theory, which has been cited as an inspiration for multiple mass shootings. Those include the 2019 shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, PA, and the 2015 Mother Emanuel Baptist Church shooting in Charleston, NC.

House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said lawmakers are responsible for their words.

“Racist rhetoric and hate speech exceed the acceptable standards for this body and it is our equal responsibility to call out such speech for what it is and make clear it has no place in this institution,” Tate said during a speech ahead of the resolution vote on the House floor Wednesday.

The resolution specifically denounced “racist, xenophobic, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic language by members of [the House].”

Representative Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) said he agrees with the intention of the resolution. But he had reservations, leading him to vote against it.

“My concern with this resolution is that it opens the door to reckless and politically motivated action from this body in the future,” Carra said during a floor speech.

At a press conference earlier this week, Carra deflected commenting on whether he believed Schriver’s post was racist by calling a Minority-Owned Business Economic Development Fund Grant program that received $10 million in the state’s current budget “racist” itself.

While speaking Wednesday ahead of the resolution vote, Schriver mentioned free speech concerns during his time at the podium.

“Free speech especially includes speech we don’t agree with,” Schriver said.

But resolution sponsor, Representative Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield) said lawmakers' words carry more weight.

“Promoting harmful, racist, xenophobic concepts and rhetoric can only serve to validate them when they come from someone serving as an elected official from this chamber,” Hoskins said.

Schriver has lost his staff and committee assignment.

Colin Jackson is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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