‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Has Fresh Personal Imapct for Rep. Stephanie Chang, She Tweets –  Deadline Detroit

Politics and a popular new movie weave together in state Rep. Stephanie Chang’s mind this weekend, as she discusses frankly on social media.

One thought strand involves unpleasantness this month with a legislative colleague who has three things in common with her — city (Detroit), party (Democratic) and gender. Still, Rep. Bettie Cook Scott spoke nastily near the end of a primary campaign against Chang for a state Senate nomination that Chang won. The two women meet this coming Thursday for an effort to smooth things over.

Stephanie Change on a local CNN set Sunday. Her interview is below. (Facebook photos)

Chang posts Sunday afternoon about that sit-down and also about seeing a film that is this weekend’s national ticket-selling leader — “Crazy Rich Asians.” She tweets:

“#RepresentationMatters in movies and politics.”

The romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast in principal roles obviously resonates deeply for the Detroit-born daughter of Taiwanese parents who immigrated for auto industry careers. Chang, a lawmaker since 2015, is the first Asian-American woman elected to Michigan’s Legislature. 

The second-term representative’s district includes Ecorse, River Rouge and parts of Detroit. She lives in Detroit with her husband, Sean Gray, and their daughter. Chang has two University of Michigan degrees — a 2005 bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, and a 2014 master’s in public policy and a master’s in social work.

Despite those credentials, lifelong American citizenship and winning a Michigan House seat twice, Chang was cast as an outsider by primary election rival Scott — who characterized her as “Ching-Chang” and “Ching-Chong.” On Primary Day at Bethany Lutheran Church in Detroit, Scott reportedly called one of Chang’s campaign volunteers an immigrant and said: “You don’t belong here . . . I want you out of my country,” according to the Michigan branch of an advocacy group called the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote.

Later that day, a statement from the group adds, Rep. Scott was talking to a voter and said: “These immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.” She’s also described as voicing dismay at “seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.”

After media coverage, Scott expressed regret and said: “Those are words I never should have said.” She agrees to meet Chang this week.

“Words impact people,” the Detroit-born lawmaker tweets Sunday.

“I am hopeful about Thursday’s meeting with Rep. Scott, APIA Vote – Michigan and others,” Chang posts Sunday on Facebook. “Let’s turn hateful and offensive remarks from August 7 into a learning moment about the impact of the words she used as well as the contributions of Asian Americans and immigrants on our state.”

Two days earlier, she posts:

“Thanks to everyone who has reached out to support. Please remember that this situation isn’t about me. It’s about our community and shared values.

“I’m hopeful that this will be a teaching moment. Public servants should treat all community members with respect. Hate has no place in our state, and especially not from those elected to serve the public.”

The lawmaker also discussed the situation Sunday on CNN, as shown in a five-minute interview video below.

On Twitter, she posts starkly in a thread that frames the recent ugliness in context of a childhood memory and a viewing of “Crazy Rich Asians” a few days ago:

Here is Chang’s conversation with CNN:

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