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The video of George Floyd suffocating under the knee of a Minneapolis police office left most of us mourning for our country and our black and brown friends and neighbors who have suffered injustice at the hands of their fellow Americans since the birth of our country. Most of us are searching for answers for how we can create a more just world. We all know that George Floyd is not the only example.

  • Iowa ranks worst in the country in racial disparities of marijuna arrests for and second worst for drug arrests overall
  • Racial profiling in policing is legal in Iowa.
  • Iowa has one of the highest incarceration rates of black and brown citizens in the nation.

We must do better and we can. I support decriminalization of marijuna, legislation to eliminate racial profiling and common-sense legislation to create a more just legal system and supporting efforts to educate and train the justice system on white privilege and implicit bias.

Last year, we passed legislation that required annual training for law enforcement officers on de-escalation techniques and the prevention of bias. HF 2647 passed unanimously out of both chambers and was of course, signed by the governor.

Good news: Law enforcement is receiving this training. Also, in discussions with the director of both the Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Human Services, she has initiated implicit bias training for her staff.

Bad news: There are several bills making their way through the legislature, which would end this training at public universities for faculty and staff.

The hypocrisy.

The effects of implicit bias run throughout society; in an address to at the Iowa-Nebraska Conference of the NAACP, former Chief Justice Mark Cady talked passionately about implicit bias and the courts:

“We want to become better decision-makers, and we know that this can be done by understanding implicit bias, and by seeing other freed from our implicit bias.

But it does not end with judges. All of us need to better understand the perspective of others, free from implicit biases that may hinder our ability to see that understanding.

Jurors, too, need to make decisions free from implicit bias. And for that reasoning, the Iowa Supreme court has encouraged judges to instruct jurors on implicit bias to sensitize them to its existence. “

Anyone working with the public should have a basic understanding of implicit bias and how it impacts the individuals they encounter. School teachers, social workers, administrators and more.

As a state, we should be expanding opportunities to learn about how we can end discrimination. This legislative session, Republicans are taking us backwards.

Quote for the week: “We are only as blind as we want to be.” — Maya Angelou