After councilman Marion Barry’s latest controversial remark, D.C.’s delegate to Congress today called on the former mayor “to cease the time dishonored pattern he seems to be adopting of targeting racial groups to call attention to issues.”
Earlier this month, Barry called Asian businesses in his district “dirty.” At a district hearing Monday, while talking about the need to train more black nurses, he singled out Filipino immigrants.
“[I]f you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” said Barry. “And no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses, and so that we don’t have to go scrounging in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who was also exasperated at Barry over his previous comment, said today that he owed an apology to Filipino nurses, “who do not deserve to be insulted” for helping fill the national void of nurses.
“The UDC School of Nursing is doing its job, but we have not done ours,” Norton said. “We have not prepared a child who wants to grow up to be a nurse with the quality of education she or he must have to study nursing.”
Norton tried to call Barry to tell him to stop using “racially cloaked language,” her office said, but hasn’t been able to reach him.
Norton and Barry first met during the civil rights movement. Her office said that her message to him is “that racial rhetoric surrounding such issues does a particular disservice beyond the offense to the group that is singled out.”