Rep. Bettie Cook Scott, D-Detroit, an African American legislator, ran against fellow Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, an Asian American, for a state Senate seat in last week’s primary. Chang won nomination.
Scott now apologizes for anti-Asian remarks on Primary Day about her party colleague, whom she characterized as “Ching-Chang” and “Ching-Chong.” The state party chairman suggests that Scott may need to “find another party.”
A spokesman, Detroit lawyer Bill Noakes, sends Deadline Detroit and three other media this statement Thursday evening:
“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 [me] 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.”
The Michigan branch of an advocacy groupo called the Asian and Pacific Islander Vote said earlier that more than a dozen community groups have called on Scott to apologize to the immigrant community, the Asian American community and the residents of Senate District 1 for Aug. 7 comments.
The group alleges in a media release:
In the early morning at Bethany Lutheran Church in Detroit, Rep. Scott called one of Rep. Stephanie Chang’s campaign volunteers an “immigrant”, saying “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country”.
Later on in the day, Rep. Scott was talking to a voter and said “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.”
In the early evening at East English Village Preparatory Academy, Scott approached another campaign’s volunteer and told her not to vote for the “ching-chang”, apparently referring to Rep. Chang. She was overheard telling multiple voters “Vote for me. Don’t vote for the ching-chong!” She also told Rep. Chang’s campaign staff that she called Chang’s volunteers “ching-chongs”, saying “I called them ching-chongs. That’s what they are!”
“These comments are offensive to all Asian-Americans,” Chang tells 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.”
The state Democratic Party chair, Brandon Dillon, condemns Scott in a statement that suggests she may need to “find another party:”
“Bettie Cook Scott’s remarks were not only offensive but go against all the values of the Democratic Party. She must apologize immediately.
“There is no place in our state or our party for bigotry and discrimination. We, at the Michigan Democratic Party, are deeply offended by these statements and the attitude behind them. We expect better from anyone who wants to call themselves a Michigan Democrat. 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.”