by Patricia L. Dickson 11/13/14
A black Democratic member of the Ohio State House of Representatives decided to wait until after the midterm elections to file a lawsuit against his own party. State Rep. John E. Barnes, a Cleveland Democrat, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Ohio Democrat Party and its chairman alleging discrimination.
In his lawsuit, Rep. Barnes claims that white lawmakers in the party get better treatment than blacks and that he was punished for raising the issue of racism within the state Democrat Party. Barnes claims that he faced retaliation and discrimination from the state Democrat Party because he refused to join the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus in the Ohio House. He mentioned in the lawsuit that his reason for not joining the OLBC was that he feared that the membership would harm his reputation, because many of the members had been convicted of felony and misdemeanor offenses in the last three years.
Can anyone honestly blame him for making that decision? He claims that his refusal to join the OLBC coupled with his decision to cooperate with Republican governor Kasich angered party chairman Chris Redfern and key leaders of the Democratic caucus in the House, and in turn he was retaliated against by being passed over for any committee leadership positions.
The interesting part about Rep Barnes’s lawsuit is that he alleges racism and discrimination within his own Democrat Party. He stated the following at a press conference:
Barnes told reporters, “This behavior on particular members … African American members … African American members have to go through another door and the white members go through another door and they expect you to stay in a box of despair.” He said, “They expect you to stay in a box where your voice is minimized in the process. Enough is enough.”
“There are people who would probably turn over in their graves if they knew about the treatment and the efforts to create a plantation-style management of black public officials in the state of Ohio,” said Barnes. “I understand what the focus is, that you want to have people together so you can manage them like they’re on a plantation. That’s just unacceptable. It’s insulting to my intelligence. It’s insulting to the people who honor me with the opportunity of serving a community and serving in the Ohio House of Representatives.”
You can’t have a process where you tell people, ‘You’re black, you go over here.’ It’s almost telling me I have to go in the back door of a restaurant. I’d use some other terms but they won’t let me,” Barnes said, glancing at his attorney.
“I don’t have time for petty party politics,” Barnes said in Monday’s press conference. He said he waited until this week to file the lawsuit so it wouldn’t hurt his party in the election. “I don’t have time to sit around and focus on ignominious peace – peace for the sake of peace – when I have people in my district who are unemployed, hungry, don’t have an opportunity – and we stand and argue about nothing and get nothing done. I will work with whomever’s in office pursuant to the Ohio Constitution, Article II,” he said.
“Now, I’m a Democrat. Make no mistake about it. But at the same time, I believe that part of being a Democrat is the freedom to place a color on the quilt that reflects your thinking, because that makes up the body of what this process is about,” said Barnes.
Referring to the OLBC’s “plantation mentality,” he said, “I don’t know why these people think that compromise is dishonorable. I don’t believe that compromise in a democracy is dishonorable.”
I am amazed that Rep. Barnes has experienced the level of racism and discrimination within the Democrat Party that he alleges and yet remains a proud and loyal member. If this does not prove that liberalism is a mental disorder, what will?
Patricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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