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Are Black Staffers Facing Hostility, Discrimination At MA State House?

Black staffers working for the government on Beacon Hill said they face a workplace environment filled with “hostility and inequality.”
Black staffers working for the government on Beacon Hill said they face a workplace environment filled with “hostility and inequality.” Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons: Stefan Schulze

Black staffers working for the government on Beacon Hill said they face a workplace environment filled with “hostility and inequality.”

They have proposed changes to the legislative working system to improve life for all people of color.

In an open letter by the Beacon BLOC (Building Leaders of Color), a group of government workers who are also people of color, employees said that politicians’ pledges to do something about racial inequality following the George Floyd killing, are hollow.

“Despite racial discrimination being illegal in this country, the experience of working as a Black person in America is rife with overt and covert racism,” the letter said.

BLOC members doubt lawmakers can get anything significant done before the close of the state’s formal session on Thursday, July 31.

“As the days left in formal sessions continue to wind down, we question the likelihood of the Legislature sending a comprehensive bill that centers the needs of black residents to the governor’s desk before the July 31st end.”

Among the changes the Bloc recommends are:

- Extend the 2019-2020 legislative session until October to allow for continued work to address racism, health inequalities, and a “robust” safety net.

- Create a central office on diversity, equity, and inclusion and audit the State House workplace practices including hiring, training, disciplinary protocols, and employee retention.

- Standardize staff on-boarding

- Create mechanisms for reporting and addressing racially-motivated aggression

- Suspension of lobbying privileges for workplace misconduct

- Create a talent pipeline for people of color

 - Archive and make available black historical records

- Establish an independent office of policy equity to supplement the committee process designed to analyze all bills being debated for potential inequalities. 

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