INDIANAPOLIS—On February 18, 2021, Black Indiana legislators were speaking in committee when they were heckled by white legislators after pointing out the discriminatory consequences of a bill. For a month now, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) has repeatedly called on legislative leadership to implement specific changes to improve equality in the statehouse—with no response. State Senator Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) sent a letter to the legislative leadership, offering support for the IBLC recommendations and also has received no commitment from the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate to address racism in the General Assembly.
“I offered this letter because the behaviors experienced by our Black Colleagues in the House of Representatives should infuriate us all. White people must not only speak up when we hear it or see it, but also do the work to understand our role in systemic racism and carry the responsibility to address it head on,” said Senator Yoder. “This unacceptable harassment must be thoroughly rebuked. But not only by our Black colleagues, and not only by Democrats, but by every member of the General Assembly who takes seriously the responsibility of representing the people of our state. I am disappointed that so far leadership has not stated the same.
Senator Melton (D-Gary) joined Senator Yoder in her frustration.
“I appreciate Senator Yoder’s commitment to fighting for justice and equity not only in the statehouse, but all of Indiana,” Sen. Melton said. “I support her call for action, and hope that legislative leadership will recognize that people of all backgrounds and races see racism as a problem that we must work together to eradicate.”
Senator Yoder said, “The fact that an entire month has passed since our colleagues were heckled and nothing has been done is shameful. I will continue to fight for justice and speak out when I see it here in the people’s house.”
A full copy of Senator Yoder’s letter can be found here.