The recent incident involving a wrestler from Buena Regional High School was more than disturbing, placing the degradation of a youth of color in the national spotlight. While the video clip was short, many different factors had an impact on this event.
Several questions arise from the situation that must be asked and addressed, including:
But there are also deeper questions that speak to the systemic, institutional racism that permeates different aspects of society. Among these:
We need to hold the decision makers in all areas of high school sports accountable for failing to provide an inclusive environment with equity of access for everyone in a manner that respects the identity and dignity of youth of color.
- The SJWPC Board
New Jersey is a vibrant and diverse state, but when looking at the state’s political representation, it is hard to tell when we repeatedly have representatives that are overwhelmingly white and male. New Jersey has never had a female US Senator. Out of 12 Congressional seats, only one is currently held by a woman (in 2019 that number will climb to two, which is better but still far from where we should be). The picture isn’t much better at the state level- women represent less than one third of the New Jersey legislature, and people of color represent less than 20% of legislators.
Even amid this grim picture, there is one legislative district that stands out for its lack of diverse representation. South Jersey’s LD-1, which consists of portions of Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic counties, holds the shameful distinction of being the only district in New Jersey to have never elected a woman or a person of color to the legislature. That’s right, throughout its history, LD-1 has never been represented by someone who was not a white man. That is inexcusable and must change.
With the recent election of Jeff Van Drew to Congress, his LD-1 state senate seat will soon be vacated, and the Democratic Party will appoint someone to fill the seat until a November election is held. The 2018 Blue Wave that sent Van Drew to Congress was powered by high turnout and activism by women and by people of color. Appointing a qualified woman or person of color to the LD-1 Senate seat is an opportunity for the Democratic party to ‘walk the walk’ and show its commitment to diverse representation.
However, unfortunately, it appears that the party seems set on appointing Bob Andrzejczak, who currently represents LD-1 in the General Assembly, to the vacant senate seat. Bob Andrzejzcak would be yet another link in the long chain of white men to represent the district. Continuing the musical chairs of powerful white men in South Jersey, it appears that all the names being floated to replace Andrzejczak’s assembly seat are also white men. But where is the diversity? Where is the open process? These types of revolving door appointments are how ‘old boys’ clubs’ operate and maintain power. These structures are why New Jersey’s politics lack diversity. Dismantling these old fashioned structures and opening up the process will result in more talented and more diverse candidates that we need if New Jersey wants to be a leader in the national political landscape.
LD-1 deserves better. The SJWPC Board urges the Democratic party to remember its values, and to value the diversity of the voters it represents, particularly those who fueled the Blue Wave. For too long, the doors of power have been shut to women and minorities. The party should take this opportunity to crack the doors open a little more, which will make the party stronger in the long run.
- The SJWPC Board