NAACP Leader Pushes Sensitivity Training For Kansas Lawmakers

Jan 25, 2018

"I believe that individuals should expect that their lawmakers are trying to gain a better understanding of different cultures and being more sensitive to issues that impact diverse populations that they serve," says Kansas NAACP President Kenya Cox.
Credit Courtesy photo

The head of the Kansas NAACP is requesting that the entire state Legislature take part in cultural competency sensitivity training after a lawmaker made disparaging remarks about African-Americans at a town hall meeting in Garden City earlier this month.

In response to a question about legalizing marijuana, Republican Rep. Steve Alford of Ulysses suggested that because of their “character” and “genetics,” African-Americans are more susceptible to abusing drugs.

"To me, that indicates a fundamental flaw in his judgment making and reveals a lot about his core beliefs," says Kansas NAACP President Kenya Cox., of Wichita.  “We are willing to work with leadership and subject matter experts to flesh out what all needs to be included in that, but we are not backing down on our position that this type of education has to be a requirement for our lawmakers.

“In corporate America, you would not ascend to any position of leadership without going through some type of cultural competency sensitivity training. They are not going to allow someone in authority or leadership position to risk their bottom line by making an insensitive or inaccurate comment.”

Cox says mayors, city council members and aldermen across the country have worked with organizations like the National League of Cities’ REAL, Race Equality and Leadership.

She also says House Speaker Ron Ryckman was receptive to the idea but was unsure of how the training would be funded. Ryckman was not readily available for comment.

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Carla Eckels is director of cultural diversity and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

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