Sen. Stephanie Flowers‘ heated comments this week on race and guns, peppered with four-letter words, are getting a national spotlight.
During legislative testimony Wednesday on a proposed “Stand Your Ground” bill, Flowers twice erupted with anger over the proceedings.
Flowers said that living in Arkansas, she regularly feared for the life of her son, now 27 years old and living outside the state. “I thank God he is [living elsewhere] when you’re bringing up crap like this,” she declared. “It offends me, and then to limit the debate too? This is crazy.”
She told the gun rights supporters, “You don’t have to worry about your children.” But as a member of the black community, she said, “I worry about my son. And I worry about other little black boys and girls. And people coming into my neighborhood, into my city, saying they’ve got open carry rights, walking down in front of my doggone office in front of the courthouse. That’s a bully.”
From there, Flowers doesn’t attempt to hide her anger, delivering an impassioned plea against white complacency in the face of gun violence that has devastating consequences for black people in the United States. Stand Your Ground laws are racist: white shooters who kill black people are found justified 11 times more frequently than when the race of the shooter and victim is reversed, and a study on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law found that, when the victim is white, defendants were nearly twice as likely to be convicted than if the victim is nonwhite.
“It doesn’t take much to look on the local news every night and see how many black kids, black boys, black men, are being killed with these ‘stand your ground’ defenses that these people raise, and they get off,” she said.
“I take issue with that. I’m the only person here of color, okay? I am a mother too. And I have a son. And I care as much for my son as y’all care for y’alls. But my son doesn’t walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time.”
In her anger, Flowers forces her white colleagues to acknowledge that racism is not an abstract concept; it is a deadly, violent force that kills.
Now This News:
State Sen. Stephanie Flowers had a powerful and emotional response to a white lawmaker trying to silence her in a debate on Arkansas' ‘stand your ground’ gun laws pic.twitter.com/aZ1OQg2mOs
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 8, 2019
The founder of Moms Demand Action also spotlighted Flowers:
There was only one Black lawmaker on the committee this week to review a Stand Your Ground bill in Arkansas. Thank God it was state Senator Stephanie Flowers. The bill failed in committee 4-3. #arleg pic.twitter.com/oP2q7vJkOC
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 8, 2019