Rep. Brad Klippert: Standing for equality and equal opportunity for all Washingtonians
In the 2021 remote legislative session, Washington state legislators saw many bills include new language updating policies that promote the pursuit of racial equity.
One example this year was House Bill 1267, a bill that would create the Office of Independent Investigations for incidents involving police use of force.
A part of this bill that stood out to me was the statement that the use of a racial equity lens should be used in conducting the work of the office.
When I read this, I recalled from a past legislative session the chairman of a House committee arranged a work session in which two professors, from separate universities, spoke to us about the meanings of equity and equality.
One professor noted that 'equity' is about numbers, or how many of a particular category.
The other explained that 'equality' has to do with making sure every single person is treated equally, without regard to skin color or any bias.
This was a dialogue I appreciated having with my colleagues.
Many times throughout history we have witnessed the pursuit of equality.
In our Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
The Washington Civil Rights Act states: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
The federal Civil Rights Act and our 14th Amendment guarantee “equal protection of the laws” to all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin.
On Aug. 28, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, stated, “I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!”
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in Montgomery, Ala. On that day, in violation of rules and regulations, she sat in a front seat of the bus. As the bus began to fill, a man asked Rosa to get up and move to a seat in the back of the bus, as required by regulation.
Rosa refused. With that choice, she sparked one of the greatest civil rights movements in the history of our nation. She took a stand and fought for freedom for all people to be treated equally. She made a decisive stand for equality. She did not fight for an equitable head count of how many people of color sat in the front or back of the bus.
Her fight made it possible for anyone who gets on a bus, no matter their skin color, to be welcome to sit anywhere they want to.
Policies that divide us like critical race theory are problematic by making us less tolerant in many areas of our lives, including in our schools, jobs, and neighborhoods.
Our nation continues to seek social healing and unity. There is still much work to be done in our lives, and throughout our country.
Equity requires us to consider numbers and judge people by the color of their skin, whereas equality puts each and every one of us on a level playing field.
Rev. King and Rosa Parks stood and fought for equality.
I stand for equality and equal opportunity for all Washingtonians and for all communities, in order to unite us. It is my desire that nothing would divide us. I seek liberty, unity, and justice for all!
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, represents the 8th Legislative District, serves on the House Public Safety and Civil Rights & Judiciary and Children, Youth & Families committees and is a Benton County Sheriff's deputy.
As published in the Tri-City Herald