New lawmakers have fresh ideas

Rep. Peggy Flanagan recently became one of the few people of color elected to the state House.

Keelia Moeller

Peggy Flanagan was recently elected into the Minnesota House. As a member of the White Earth Band of the Ojibwe, she joins only 10 people of color out of 201 legislators in the Minnesota House and Senate. 
This proportion doesn’t match the racial and ethnic diversity of Minnesota itself. About 19 percent of people in Minnesota are minorities, but only 5 percent of its legislators are people of color. 
African-Americans make up 5.9 percent of Minnesota’s population, but there are only three African-American legislators. Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, is the only black member of the House. She believes people of color are often reluctant to work in politics because the system works against them. 
This lack of diversity is unhealthy in a political situation. There are certain things that people of color will understand and represent much better than the white majority. 
For example, the limited perspective of the majority often leads lawmakers to make uninformed decisions regarding education and health care policies because they don’t understand what people from different backgrounds might need.
In order to diversify the Minnesota Legislature, it is crucial that more people of color involve themselves in the world of politics. However, it is also necessary for us to make the political system one that is designed to work for people of color, not against them.
The only way to stop the system from working against minorities is to diversify it. If more people are present in government to represent different perspectives, our lawmakers will make fewer uninformed decisions.