D.C. Statehood Matters for D.C. Residents Too

Most of the discussion about D.C. statehood revolves around the likely gain of two Democratic Senate and one House seat, which isn’t surprising, since that’s how statehood would affect most people. But for D.C. residents, there is a far more fundamental reason–D.C.’s “Home Rule” ultimately isn’t home rule at all, until we get statehood (boldface mine):

A Republican congressman from Wisconsin introduced legislation this week that would ban D.C. schools from teaching critical race theory — the academic framework that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism.

Because D.C. is not a state, Congress can enact laws that affect city functions. This bill marks the latest Republican attempt to introduce legislation on political issues — including guns, marijuana, school vouchers and abortion — that meddle in D.C. affairs and are not supported by local residents…

But in the District — in a school system that is majority Black and a city that is overwhelmingly liberal — critical race theory has not been controversial.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee has openly talked about the systemic racism that led to George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis and has launched an anti-racist training program for educators. He has not been met with local political or parent pushback.

On Friday, Ferebee told reporters that the school system is auditing its curriculum to ensure it promotes equity and will continue having conversations in classrooms about systemic racism.

I’m surprised the article didn’t mention Congress outlawing needle exchange programs from 1997 to 2007. Once D.C. was allowed to pass needle exchange, annual injection-associated HIV cases dropped from 150 to 2 (not a typo). Basically, Republicans in Congress inflicted HIV on nearly 1,500 D.C. residents.

So, yes, D.C. statehood matters because it makes Senate representation somewhat more representative of the nation as a whole. But it also matters for the residents of the mainland colony too.

We will make mistakes, just like other states. But they’ll be our mistakes, not those of some unaccountable asshole from Wisconsin.

Related: Everything in D.C. is About Our Fight for Statehood. Even Instacart Snacks.

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