Rep Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit) earned widespread flak yesterday after she was revealed to have called her Asian opponent in the Democratic primary election for state senator District 1, Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) as a “ching-chang” and urged voters, “Don’t vote for the ching-chong.”
A democrat, Scott presently represents Detroit’s southeast side and three of the Grosse Pointes. She was endorsed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in her campaign to become state senator.
Eyewitnesses at the polling precincts alleged that Scott first called one of campaign volunteers an “immigrant,” saying “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country.” This incident occurred early in the morning, at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Detroit.
Later that day, Scott told a voter, “these immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.” She added that it “disgusts” her “seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.”
That same evening, at the East English Village Preparatory Academy, Scott approached another campaign’s volunteer and told her not to vote for the “ching-chang.” Witnesses claim that Scott proceeded to tell several voters, “Vote for me. Don’t vote for the ching-chong!”
Scott also brazenly informed Chang’s campaign staff that she branded Chang’s volunteers “ching-chongs,” proclaiming “I called them ching-chongs. That’s what they are!”
One of the witnesses who heard the racist slurs Scott spewed was Chang’s husband, Sean Grey. Grey told reporters that he urged Scott not to speak about his wife in such a manner but Scott did not stop. Scott, instead, went on to call Grey – an African-American – a “fool” for marrying Chang.
Despite, or perhaps aided by Scott’s racist slurs against her opponent, Chang won the primary with a whopping 49 per cent of the vote and is expected to win the general. Scott lagged in third place, securing 11 per cent of the vote.
Chang later told reporters: “These comments are offensive to all Asian-Americans. 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.”
One witness, Voices of Women to Win volunteer Kalaya Long, expressed disgust at the slurs Scott used to attack Chang. She said: “As an African-American woman, I’ve been called the N-word before in my life and you never forget it. Each time it’s shocking and appalling and disgusting, so when you hear someone that’s a minority and a woman using slurs against another minority that’s a woman, it’s just mind boggling and it just felt dirty.”
The backlash against Scott has been swift and severe with groups like Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan, the Association of Chinese Americans, the African Bureau of Immigration & Social Affairs, American Citizens for Justice, the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, and Equality Michigan calling on Scott to apologise.
Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan released a statement and asserted: “Elected officials should be held to high standards of professional conduct, and respect people of all racial and ethnic background. No elected official or candidate for office, regardless of political affiliation, should use stereotypical imagery or language. The use of these stereotypes is counter to the progress our country has made over past decades to encourage respect for all communities.”
Scott has since apologised for her insensitive remarks. She said in a statement:
“I deeply regret the comments I made that have proven hurtful to so many. Those are words I never should have said.
“I humbly apologize to Representative Chang, her husband, Mr. Gray, and to the broader Asian American community for those disparaging remarks. In the divisive age we find ourselves in, I should not contribute further to that divisiveness.
“I have reached out to Representative Chang to meet with her so that I may apologize to her in person. I pray she and the Asian American community can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”