‘I Am An American’: Black Missouri Republican Rep. Questioned By Black Democrat About Ethnicity After Opposing DEI

Black Republican Missouri state Rep. Justin Hicks was yelled at this week by black Democrat state Rep. Marlene Terry over his opposition to the state government funding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

On Thursday, House Bill 6, an appropriations bill for Missouri’s departments of agriculture, natural resources, and conservation, was sent to the state Senate by the Republican-controlled state House by a vote of 105-46. 

The bill says that the departments cannot spend funds “for staffing, vendors, consultants, or programs associated with ‘Diversity, Equity, Inclusion’ or ‘Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging.’” The bill also blocks funds for initiatives that go toward initiatives that promote preferential treatment based on identity, “the concept that disparities are tied to oppression,” “collective guilty ideologies,” and “intersectional or divisive identity activism.” 

During debate on the bill, Hicks, a Republican elected to represent part of St. Charles County in 2022, was grilled over his opposition to state funds going toward DEI programs by Terry, who has been in office since 2021. 

“You said you were OK with the DEI [measure], and that there is an equal playing field. Did you say that?” she asked Hicks, who said that he does support banning government funds from going towards DEI. 

“What it does is say that we are not in the business in state government of giving preferential treatment to certain groups and individuals. We treat everyone the same because we are all people under the law,” Hicks said. 

Terry then asked how the freshman representative ethnically identified. “I identify as an American,” he replied, which led to applause from some of the lawmakers present. 

After Hicks told Terry that she had been given the same opportunity to be elected to state government as everyone else, Terry said that Hicks was “delusional.”

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“You are delusional if you think that because that’s not how life is going. That’s the reason we need these things implemented in some of these companies,” she said. 

Terry also said that she introduced some “darn good bills,” suggesting that because her bills were advancing that the system was rigged against her. There are currently 111 Republicans in the Missouri state House and 52 Democratic lawmakers. 

“I had to work on my own merit, and pretty much promote the principles that I believe in, which is freedom, equality for all, which I believe that America does. And that’s how I got elected into my position. I didn’t get elected into my position because of the color of my skin or do any race-baiting stuff that it seems like you’re promoting here,” Hicks said when asked how he was elected. 

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