Correction: A previous version of this column incorrectly described an unnamed woman as Black. She is Hispanic.

It definitely was a pause, but was it an interruption?

Regardless, to State Rep. Chuck Basye, a Republican from Rocheport, it was such an affront that on March 8 he ordered Monica Horton of Springfield and six others associated with Missouri Faith Voices to exit his office.

“I was not rude. I just told them to leave,” Basye tells me.

The contingent was there to dissuade Basye, chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, from supporting a bill that would ban critical race theory from grades K-12 and give parents more say in their children’s education.

For this column, I’ve talked to Basye, a former Marine and former air traffic controller,  and Horton, who has two master’s degrees and is one of five applicants to replace Angela Romine, Zone 1, on the Springfield City Council.

The only thing they agree on is that the meeting did not go well.

Basye says he regrets nothing and acknowledges that he told a Hispanic woman a week before to leave his office while they were talking about the same topic: the House bill and critical race theory.

Horton is Black.

“He is establishing a pattern,” Horton says.  

She says Basye does not like it when women of color challenge him on race issues.

According to Horton, Basye was explaining why he supports the bill when she apparently interrupted him. 

“He had completed a sentence, but he apparently had not completed his thought,” she says. “I interjected to add more clarification, not so say, ‘No, you are wrong.'”

He was visibly upset at the interruption and immediately told everyone to leave  — except he asked the one man in the group to briefly return.

Horton says she was trying to express to him how someone of color views the same issue in a different way.

“OK, that is her interpretation of it,” Basye tells me. “And frankly, she is full of crap.”

State rep says group tried to intimidate him

He says the group showed up to talk to him unannounced, but he agreed to meet with them not knowing who they were or what the topic would be.

“These people come into my office and they will not let me finish a sentence, or a paragraph,” he says. “They are just a bunch of radicals. That is the best way I can describe them.”

He says that “Missouri Faith Voices” is a “catchy name,” but the group is radical.

“I have no regrets for throwing them out of my office last week. When they come in and tell me I have white privilege, that is a conversation ender.

“I did not get anywhere close to explaining my position,” he says. “They like to surround you and try to intimidate you. They will not let you finish a thought or a sentence.”

According to Basye, one of the seven said to him, “You have not heard the end of us. We might show up at your house.’

“They know where I live,” Basye says. “It is not going to end well. I am not a Washington, D.C. politician who puts up with that shit.”

A week prior, he says, a Black woman from the Equity Education Partnership also told him he was viewing critical race theory through the lens of white privilege.

“They do not know anything about me — my background or how I got to where I am,” he says. 

“It is inappropriate to label somebody solely on the basis of their skin color. I invited that lady to leave very abruptly, as well.”

Horton says Basye brought up the federal lawsuit filed by two employees of Springfield Public Schools against the district. The two allege that mandatory training on racial equity violated their rights, forced them to disclose personal information, and pressured them to affirm the district’s beliefs on the issue.

Horton tells me that she knows one of the employees in the lawsuit because the employee had worked with her 12-year-old daughter. 

She was trying to provide insight on the Springfield lawsuit to Basye, who does not represent the Springfield area, that she did not think he had, she says.

Horton was trying to tell Basye that the issue of race equity was so important to her, as a Black woman, that when she saw that the employee who worked with her daughter had sued the district she immediately had the district replace the teacher with someone else.

That’s what she was trying to say when she apparently interrupted Basye and made him angry.

“He did not really want to listen,” she says.

This is Pokin Around Column No. 22.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin