This Minnesota Lawmaker Won't Apologize For Calling Out Her White Male Colleagues

"I’m really tired of watching women of color, in particular, being ignored."

Minnesota House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman is holding her white male colleagues accountable for ignoring the arguments of women of color, and she won't apologize for it.

It started earlier this week when several of Hortman's fellow Democrats spoke out against a public safety bill that would increase penalties for protesters blocking roads. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who made history last year when she became the nation's first Somali-American legislator, was among those who argued that the bill — which did ultimately pass in the House — would be a blow to civil rights.

"I want you to think about the kind of message that you are sending," Omar said. "You are continuing to say, 'We don't care about you. We don't want to see you. We don't want to hear from you. We find you annoying. We find you a nuisance, and we would like to just have you disappear.' The reality is, you can't make us disappear."


Omar's comments became doubly relevant when several colleagues who were absent from these speeches were called back to the floor by Hortman. She made sure to point out something she noticed about the legislators who weren't present.

"I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room, but I think this is an important debate," Hortman said.

That comment didn't sit well with some Republicans, including House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, who reportedly called the remark "racist," and Rep. Bob Dettmer, who asked Hortman to apologize.

"I'm a white male," Dettmer said. "I respect everybody. But I really believe the comments that were made by the minority leader were really not appropriate."

Hortman didn't back down. Read her response below, per the Minneapolis City Pages:

I have no intention of apologizing. I am so tired of watching Rep. Susan Allen give an amazing speech, Rep. Peggy Flanagan give an amazing speech, watching Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn give an amazing speech, Rep. Rena Moran give the most heartfelt, incredible speech I've heard on this House floor, as long as I can remember, watching Rep. Ilhan Omar give an amazing speech ... and looking around, to see, where are my colleagues? And I went in the retiring room, and I saw where a bunch of my colleagues were. And I'm really tired of watching women of color, in particular, being ignored. So, I'm not sorry.

Unfortunately, Hortman's strong words didn't deter some lawmakers. "All I know is, if I would've made a comment like that, it probably would've made the front page of the newspaper," Dettmer responded. Rep. Greg Davids, meanwhile, has called for Hortman to resign over the comments, which he says have created a "hostile working environment."

Rep. Omar herself spoke up in defense of Hortman, giving a definition of "racism" and adding, "So I just want to set the record straight that I don't think ... her comments could be called racist."

You can watch Hortman stand her ground in the video above from The Uptake.

(H/T: Huffington Post)

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