DETROIT (AP) — A Black Detroit lawmaker has apologized for using racial slurs against an Asian American opponent for state Senate.
Rep. Bettie Cook Scott issued an apology on Aug. 16 after accountability group Progress Michigan revealed Scott used racial slurs to refer to state Rep. Stephanie Chang, the Detroit News reported. Progress Michigan also revealed this week that Scott told voters during the Aug. 7 primary that she was disgusted to see the Black community support Chang and not “their own people.’’
Scott and Chang were among six Democratic candidates running for state Senate District 1. Chang won the primary.
Scott apologized to Chang, her husband, and the 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.’’
“It’s not about me,’’ Chang said. “It really is about the comments that she made to Asian Americans and the community more broadly.’’
The Michigan Democratic Party and more than a dozen community groups called for Scott to publicly apologize for her statements this week.
“Bettie Cook Scott needs to apologize to the entire Asian American community,’’ said Brandon Dillon, party chairman. “If an individual doesn’t share our fundamental values of tolerance, decency, and respect, they should find another party.’’
The state’s Department of Civil Rights said Scott needs to commit to a “guided learning process’’ to address her behavior so she can adequately serve all her constituents, regardless of race or ethnicity. Department Director Agustin Arbulu suggested Scott and her staff receive training in cultural competency, discriminatory harassment, racial equity and unconscious bias.
“It is important that Rep. Scott take concrete steps that go well beyond a nicely-worded statement in addressing the serious problems her words have revealed,’’ Arbulu said.