Ed. Note: In response to national outrage, Texas GOP Rep. Betty Brown issued a written apology for her remarks about Asian American names. What do you think of her apology? Please comment below, or send us your thoughts and we’ll post them on our Blog.
Statement from State Representative Betty Brown
Thursday, April 9th, 2009
Contact: Jordan Berry – 903.288.7581
State Representative Betty Brown apologizes for her remark in the Elections Committee on Tuesday, April 7th. Representative Brown appreciates Ramey Ko’s testimony which made the Elections Committee aware of experiences Asian-American’s have when acquiring identification. Representative Brown appreciates the diversity of Texas and the enrichment that the Asian-American community has brought to our great state.
She would like for you to be aware that the quote that is being circulated is one sentence out of a conversation she was having with Mr. Ko, who represents the Organization of Chinese Americans, while he was testifying. The conversation was regarding possible difficulties in translating names. Later in the conversation Representative Brown explained what she had meant by her comment. “I’m not talking about changing your name. I’m talking about the transliteration, or whatever you refer to it, that you could use for us.”
Representative Brown expresses gratitude to her Asian-American friends for their demonstration of support by her during this misunderstanding.
Update from our friend Ramey Ko:
In my conversation with [Texas Rep. Brown’s] Chief of Staff yesterday, she explicitly said that they were releasing the statement through [former Texas Rep.] Martha [Wong] rather than making it publicly because they didn’t want it to be in the press anymore.
I’d also note that the apology doesn’t address her use twice of language that implies Asian Americans aren’t Americans:
“Do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here.”
“Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for both you and for people who are pollworkers, if there were some means by which you could adopt a name just for your poll identification purposes that would be easier for the Americans to deal with?”
I think that implication is reflective of a lot more than just misspeaking about names.
And regardless of whether she is talking about explicitly changing Asian names to Westernized ones, she clearly is asking Asian Americans to shoulder the burden and cost of somehow “streamlining” our names in order to vote.
“Alright, I see a need here for young people like you, who are obviously very bright, to come up with something that would work for you, and then let us see if it will work for us.”
And finally, it shows a lack of appreciation for the fact that whatever solution she might come up with, millions of Asian American voters today will be affected by the legislation.Note: The AAA-Fund welcomes a diversity of views and voices. In that spirit, the views expressed in this article are the author's own. Unless an article states that it was written by the AAA-Fund or its Board of Directors, it does not necessarily reflect the views of the AAA-Fund.