Friday, February 22, 2013

SB 1350: Small Business & Employer Diversity

Virginia Senate Bill 1350 merges two previously existing offices to form a state Department of Small Business & Employer Diversity.

It's supposed to help small businesses, and especially protect businesses owned by women and members of ethnic minorities.

I'll say this as a woman, as a small business, as a Tea Party, and a multiracial basic-human-color type. There was a time when White males had practiced identity politics with a specific intention of making things harder for competitors who weren't White or male, and, as a consequence, the rest of us had a need for identity politics to fix the things these protectionist White males of the past had messed up. I thank the older people who started those identity politics movements; I'm glad I was born in time at least to join a few of the protests.

It does something for me emotionally, even though I voted against him and have opposed his best known acts as President, that we have an openly triracial President who identifies as African-American. It did something for me when Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice-President, although I voted against her too, and when Sarah Palin did, although I was disgusted both by how much hate the mass media displayed for her as a woman and how they barely questioned her very dubious political themes at all. I like it that movies and TV shows as well as politics, these days, Look Like America--ethnically mixed, and sometimes with women in the lead. Any day now we may start seeing women in important positions not even having to paint their faces. Yesss!

But I've never liked tokenism, and don't now, and don't want to think that anybody thinks I still need it. Small businesses, as such, may still need a little counter-protection against protectionist measures created by and for big businesses. Women, as such? Not so much. All these legislative measures about businesses that are "more than 50% female- or minority-owned," for pity's sake--what if it's a mom-and-pop store where Mom is Anglo-American and Pop is Korean-American?

Do women still need a little help when interacting with unenlightened oldfashioned men? Of course we do, but why does that help need to come from a tax-funded state agency? I'd like to save the state some money by getting any help I may need, specifically as a woman, in the oldfashioned way--from relatives and personal friends.

There are those who want to keep casting the whole Tea Party movement as racist/sexist, and unfortunately not all of them are racist/sexist wingnuts calling themselves Tea Parties. ("Taxed Enough Already" has nothing to do with race or gender, except in the minds of people obsessed with one or both of those.) I think that's why some Tea Parties have gone overboard supporting some politicians who deserved commendation but er uh just weren't quite ready for the big time, e.g. Michele Bachmann (whom I like, but I don't think she even seriously wanted to be President) and Herman Cain. They weren't presidential timber but look at'em, they prove that at least we're not prejudiced against them! Right. Nice. Goes only so far and in my opinion it's gone there by now.

What I'm seeing, in the Tea Parties I watch online, is a whole new generation coming on. Elizabeth Hanford Dole saw this back in the 1990s, when many women writers weren't ready to hear and see it, much less second it--but I was. I'm hearing from both women and minority-type men, "Our elders opened doors for us, we thank them, and now that those doors are open, what we really have to say may be in a common cause with White men, and we're not haters; we don't mind having a common cause with White men at all." And personally I was ready to hear that twenty years ago.