HB2 is Meant to Keeping Working People Divided and the Privileged in Power

Alamance NAACP President Barrett Brown speaking in Raleigh, NC at the State Legislature for the NC NAACP’s “Repeal HB2 Moral Monday” on May 16, 2016.

In considering House Bill 2, or the so-called “The Bathroom Bill,” it seems the propaganda of the elite is again dividing working class people. History teaches us that despite being in the minority, the elite maintain their privilege by distracting and then dividing the majority against themselves. People of power and privilege never have to fear revolutionary progress so long as they keep the masses divided and fearful of each other.

How else could a plantation of 150 enslaved people be held in submission by a family of five? Or how could colonial nations subjugate native peoples? They set one class of their victims against the other. People who would otherwise be natural allies buy into the bitter lie that perceived differences make house workers superior to field workers or that one tribe of indigenous people is better than another tribe. This systematic sowing of mistrust and fear between house workers and field workers, between the Cherokee and the Sioux, or between working class whites and working class blacks only serve the purposes of the wealthiest one percent.

So in all of the controversy over the bathroom provisions, much of the law is going unexamined. Let us remember, HB2 made it illegal for any local government to pass any kind of anti-discriminatory law, to protect any class of people. HB2 made it illegal to sue for workplace discrimination at the state level, for any reason. And it inexplicably prevents towns and cities from raising the minimum wage or passing other labor standards in their respective jurisdictions.

But we don’t hear about those provisions from proponents of House Bill 2. They only want to repeat their “common sense” argument that women and children were not safe under the Charlotte ordinance and that the NC Legislature had to protect them. In this case however, “common sense” is code for “I have no empirical data to support my gut feeling.” There is no evidence to support the fear that the sponsors of this bill set to burn like wildfire in the hearts of people who don’t understand the complexity of what it means to exist as transgender person. Women and children are statistically far more susceptible to sexual assault by people they know. That means boyfriends, priests, caregivers, family members, and trusted family friends.

And let us not forget that 150 years ago it was “common sense” that slavery was supported by Holy Scripture. Just 50 short years ago it was “common sense” that white people and black people should use separate restrooms. Many legislators who voted for this bill nurse their own personal prejudices and fears and so voted to set the Civil Rights Movement backwards 25 years.

Civil Rights is still a movement, and will continue to be an evolving movement until every citizen has an equal opportunity enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We are all entitled to those liberties whether our fellow citizens fully understand them or approve of them. HB2 has been a divisive distraction for the citizens of North Carolina. We should be focusing on issues that could make our state better, but instead we have become what the New-York Times called “pioneers in bigotry.” We are better than this. To be on the right side of history, we must repeal House Bill 2.

– Alamance NAACP President Barrett Brown

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