Does former DC mayor (and current DC city council member) Marion Barry have an Asian problem?
First, he got into trouble when he criticized some Asian businesses in his district for being “dirty,” remarking that “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops.”
He later clarified those remarks, saying that he was only referring to the “less than stellar Asian American businessmen:”
I am sorry that my choice of words in expressing my discontent with some of the Asian business owners in my Ward offended the Asian American Community and I am deeply apologetic for any harm that I have caused.
Note the absence of an actual apology for saying those words in the first place, but whatever.
Esther wrote a thoughtful open letter to Mr. Barry, asking him to “‘do better, and to come up with some solutions that will create real opportunities for your community, rather than resorting to hateful memes that will inevitably lead to more violence and misunderstanding and no solutions.”
Instead, Barry went after Filipino nurses next.
At a budget hearing, Barry told officials at the University of the District of Columbia that the school should hire more D.C. residents as teachers and nurses.
It’s the way he phrased that suggestion, though, that has people fired up again.
“In fact, it’s so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” he said.
In response to critics saying that his comments were racist, Barry said that that was “their problem, not my problem.”
He spoke out again on Thursday, claiming that he didn’t make racist remarks and blamed the media who claims “want to diminish [his] life’s work.”
Is it worth getting worked up over anything Marion Barry, a man whose history of making “off-color” remarks is long enough and colorful enough to merit its own news feature? It’s also got me wondering which Asian professional community he might target next: Korean dry cleaners? Vietnamese nail technicians?
I can’t wait to find out.
[Photo Credit: Graeme Jennings/Examiner]