The election is over, but Michigan state Senate District 1 is still dealing with the fallout from comments made by Democratic Rep. Bettie Cook Scott about her opponent, Rep. Stephanie Chang. Last Tuesday, Chang won the election with 49 percent of the vote, while Scott trailed in third place with 11 percent.
According to the Detroit Metro Times, Scott made racist remarks about Chang on election day:
Scott is alleged to have referred to Chang as “ching-chang” and “the ching-chong” to multiple voters outside polling precincts during last Tuesday’s election. She’s also said to have called one of Chang’s campaign volunteers an “immigrant,” saying “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country.”
“These comments are offensive to all Asian-Americans,” Chang told Metro Times. “It isn’t about me. It’s about an elected official disrespecting entire populations, whether they be Asian-American, immigrant, or residents of Sen. District 1 or [Cook’s] own current house district.”
Scott apparently didn’t care much who heard these comments, as one of the people who reported the slurs was Chang’s own husband. He told the Metro Times what happened:
“I ... asked her not to speak about my wife in that manner. At that time she said to the voter that ‘these immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.’ Further, she said it ‘disgusts her seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.’”
Gray, who is black, says Scott then went on to call him a “fool” for marrying Chang.
“We expect better from anyone who wants to call themselves a Michigan Democrat,” Michigan democratic party chairman Brandon Dillon said in a statement “Bettie Cook Scott needs to apologize to the entire Asian American community. If an individual doesn’t share our fundamental values of tolerance, decency, and respect, they should find another party.”
After pressure from a dozen community groups, Scott apologized for her comments, according to The Detroit News.
“Those are not the kinds of comments that should be made nor are they the kind of comments I would normally make,” Scott said in a statement issued through her lawyer Bill Noakes on Thursday. “I humbly apologize to Rep. Chang and to her husband, Mr. Gray, and to the broader Asian American community.
“We live in a time of increasing divisiveness,” she said. “As a state representative, I should never do anything to contribute to an atmosphere of divisiveness and for that, I am terribly sorry. I look forward to meeting with Rep. Chang to express my apologies directly to her as soon as she’s able to meet with me.”
Update, 9:07 p.m.: We’ve removed a paragraph at the end of this piece that inappropriately speculated on the history of black and Asian race relations. We apologize.