Democrats huddle over racism in fiscal policy

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

House Democrats and their staff are meeting tomorrow to discuss racial issues and fiscal policy with the founder of an organization that believes "right wing rhetoric" undermines racial justice.

Maya Wiley -- a civil rights attorney who has "litigated, lobbied the U.S. Congress and developed programs to transform structural racism in the U.S. and in South Africa" -- will address the Democrats.

Wiley will first speak with House Democrats and then meet with their staff to discuss "how we talk about race in the context of our fiscal policy debate," according to the meeting announcement.

"We just thought it was a good opportunity for interested staff -- who frankly have to do a lot of the policy work and write talking points for members who hear Ms. Wiley speak -- just to give them a chance to get briefed, hear what their members heard, and follow up with more specific questions if they have them," Chris Lee, a staffer for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told The Washington Examiner. Rep. Lee invited Wiley to speak to the caucus.

"Our intention with the staff briefing was to give them a chance to run through their strategy and how they message and talk about stuff," the aide explained.

Wiley founded the Center for Social Inclusion. In a section entitled "Talking About Race," CSI argues that "right-wing rhetoric has dominated debates of racial justice – undermining efforts to create a more equal society, and tearing apart the social safety net in the process" for the last 25 years or more. "CSI engages in empirical testing of strategies and conducts communications trainings that can foster a more productive conversation about race."

More generally, the group says it "works with our partners to understand the structures and systems that perpetuate the exclusion of communities of color, and shed light on the negative effects on us all."



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