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Friday, June 2, 2017

ERIC FINCH & MARTHA LANING, WI Democratic Chair Candidates Response to Inclusion of African American

June 2, 2017
MADISON, WI | Today is the day of the beginning of the 2017 Democratic Party's Convention at the Madison Marriot West in Middleton.

On May 31, 2017, Mary Glass, Executive Producer/Host, Public Policy w/Mary Glass & Company, Riverwest Talk Show, sent Facebook and/or email contact to the four (4) candidates (Joe Donovan, Eric Finch, Bryan Kennedy and Martha Laning) for their response to an Open Letter sent to them in reference to the May 25, 2017 Open Letter sent by 31 African American women to National DNC Chair Tom Perez. Glass asked that a response was received by 12 Noon on June 1, 2017.

Click for Viewing Open Letter (Mary Glass) message.

The first response RECEIVED was from Candidate Eric Finch at 11:13am, June 1, 2017.

I'm absolutely committed to inclusion, and this needs to happen not just in the image we put out to the world, but in the highest levels of internal party leadership. I've read and taken to heart the open letter to Tom Perez. The party must do more to listen to those who have been a solid pillar of the party's activist base. It is vital that we remember Black Lives Matter was started by three black women, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza, out of concern for black children being killed in our country. It isn't a terrorist group - it's women voicing concern for children. Although I've done graduate level research on education policy and the school-to-prison pipeline, I don't claim to have all the answers. This is why inclusion of African American women like those that founded Black Lives Matter is crucial.

Publications like the report, "Justice Doesn't Trickle Down - How Racialized and Gendered Rules Are Holding Women Back" should be required reading for anyone seeking to be a leader for our cause. It isn't enough to just say Black Lives Matter and meet with community leaders. We must actually enact policy. This means winning elections and putting policies in place that create changes to institutions and policies that have discriminatory effects, like lead in water, post-sentence stigma, and the drug war to name just a few. Lead in water that has severely poisoned 10% of black kids in Milwaukee (over 1,600 confirmed cases). It's time to rip out those pipes and put a water system fit for human beings in place. We must work to create paths for those who have long been caught up in the criminal justice system to lead meaningful lives and face less stigma after finishing a sentence. Ending the discriminatory effects of the drug war is a vital step, but we can't pretend that there is one magic solution in any policy. Certainly, there are things like de-escalation training for police are a start; such training makes both citizens and peace officers safer. But we must deal with systemic issues. This includes making sure our schools treat African American children fairly. I could go on about community control of police and investment in public education, but the bottom line is that there is more to be done than can fit into a few paragraphs, and it is vital that we listen to those who are on the forefront of these fights for human rights.

I am committed to bringing more inclusion of black women. I am of one spirit with that May 25th letter.


The second response RECEIVED was from Candidate Martha Laning at 1:44pm, June 1, 2017.


I hear your concerns about the lack of diversity within the National and State party as well as our elected positions. I had similar concerns when I became chair and have prioritized taking steps to change that.  Under my leadership we are building a party that reflects the communities we are representing so we embrace the cultural richness of our communities.   As the chair, I have prioritized building more diversity into our staff and committees.  We have gone from 0% on staff to 25% and I am very proud of our progress, but we have a lot more to do.  Three months ago we hired a Constituency Outreach Organizer whose job is to reach out to our underrepresented communities to ensure we are working with the communities on the issues that are important to them.  

I appreciate your honesty and insight and I need your help.  Senator Taylor, who has been an outstanding resource for me, told me about you and your relationship with business, your advocacy and persistence on issues that are important.  We need your help to create the change we need to see in the party.  I appreciate you holding us accountable and I would be pleased to meet with you to learn your ideas on how we can move the process of creating real diversity in our party along at a faster pace. 

I also apologize for the late response - the convention is upon us and I am triple booked.  I do feel this is very important however and wanted you to hear my perspective.

Thank you for all you do for our communities and I look forward to talking with you soon.


Martha Laning
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair

I will be back.
Mary Glass, 6-2-17

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