A pair of incidents in the Oklahoma House of Representatives is being decried as both racist and sexist.
It was supposed to be a routine question during the last day of session. Tulsa Democrat Regina Goodwin, who is the only black woman in Oklahoma's House of Representatives, was instead interrupted on several occasions.
In the second instance, captured by the Capitol’s closed circuit recording, Goodwin was given the floor to ask a question and as she began speaking an unidentified Republican lawmaker was heard shouting “debate!”
Goodwin then sighed and asked for a point of order.
Another lawmaker, a woman, can be heard saying: “Who’s doing that?”
“Another Republican man just yelled out debate and I'd just like to know who is that and if we can get to the bottom of this?” Goodwin said on the floor appearing to be exasperated. “If you could just stand and yell out debate. Tell me who it was! Please be big enough to be bold enough to stand up and tell me who it was!”
No one stood and took responsibility for the exclamation but moments later Rep. Jeff Coody (R-Grandfield) stood up to speak, but was told to sit down by fellow Rep. Jon Echols (R-OKC).
“This is playing bad for us in the media,” Echols could be heard saying.
“I withdraw,” Coody replied.
The outbursts inspired the short-lived hashtag “#StandwithRegina.” Rep. Emily Virgin (D-Norman) wrote on her Facebook page that the incident was racist and sexist.
"The way some of the white males in the house treated my black female [colleague]... is the only evidence you need that we still have and (sic) LONG way to go," she wrote.
The statement garnered hundreds of reactions and dozens of like-minded comments from Oklahomans.
“When I first saw it, my thought was ‘oh my gosh I don’t believe this is happening,” Kitti Asberry said. Asberry is the Executive Director for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. She’s also black. She said the incident isn’t uncommon.
“I wouldn't say that it's strange and because she is the only black woman they didn't have another target, if of course if it was a target,” said Asberry.
Rep. Collin Walke (D-OKC), however, said Goodwin was targeted. In a statement, he said the only explanation for the interruption was, "she's an African-American female, and certain legislators feel as though she can be treated differently solely because of that."
Efforts to reach out to Goodwin herself were not responded to. A spokesperson for Speaker of the House Charles McCall said the Speaker was “unavailable.”
A link to the last day of session can be found here. Goodwin begins speaking at 9:42 a.m.