A Republican Senator from Florida looks to expedite what has been delayed consideration of a civil rights study group he and two Democrats proposed last year.
In 2019, Sen. Marco Rubio teamed up with two Democratic Presidential candidates, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris, to propose a group dedicated to studying the particular challenges faced by African-American males.
Despite bipartisan backing, however, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act has not moved.
In light of the killing of George Floyd and the seismic aftermath, Rubio thinks it’s time to move.
Rubio tweeted Thursday morning that “11 months ago I proposed a federal commission to investigate potential civil rights violations & disparities affecting black males & issue an annual report & recommendations to Congress & POTUS. I am working to pass it in Senate ASAP via expedited process.”
A Rubio tweet from earlier in the morning offered a tease of sorts, saying “This time it’s different.”
George Floyd‘s “murder is the catalyst for the protests but not the only thing they are about. For too long unacceptable disparities have gone unaddressed. We need action. But action begins by listening so we understand the problem & then coming up with answers that work,” Rubio said.
The Commission, should it be enacted, would “investigate potential civil rights violations affecting black males and study the disparities they experience in education, criminal justice, health, employment, fatherhood, mentorship and violence.”
The Senator, though he has expressed disquiet over radical elements hijacking what he and other Republicans have maintained are “peaceful protests,” also has vowed to fight the “lingering cancer of racial inequality” in recent days.
“This time we must not fail to admit & confront the lingering cancer of racial inequality. Protests demanding this are both a right & a necessity,” Rubio tweeted Tuesday, adding that “there is no right & can be no tolerance for using protests as cover to commit crimes or foment anarchy.”
The seeds for the Tuesday morning tweet may have been planted in a Twitter exchange hours before with Luther Campbell, a Miami writer and activist who achieved national prominence decades ago with the 2 Live Crew.
Campbell appealed to Rubio to “do something great.”
“You have an opportunity to do something great,” Campbell wrote. “I know you have it in you.”
“We know you have no ill will towards black people,” Campbell added, “but right now we need you to stand with us in changing these laws that allow Police to kill black people.”
Rubio, a contemporary of Campbell’s, responded.
“It is time we confront all these issues once & for all. Can’t be put off any longer,” the Senator said.
For the Senator, this continues a rhetorical focus on these issues, consistent with 2015 comments about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This is a legitimate issue,” Rubio said. “It is a fact that in the African-American community around this country there has been, for a number of years now, a growing resentment toward the way law enforcement and the criminal justice system interacts with the community. It is particularly endemic among young African-American males — that in some communities in this country have a much higher chance of interacting with criminal justice than higher education. We do need to face this. It is a serious problem in this country.”
Mr.Floyd’s murder is the catalyst for the protests but not the only thing they are about. For too long unacceptable disparities have gone unaddressed.
We need action. But action begins by listening so we understand the problem & then coming up with answers that work. pic.twitter.com/9IetTwa1tU
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 4, 2020