The PJ Tatler

Apology for Asian Remark 'as Solid as Marion Barry Can Make It,' Says Barry

Washington’s delegate in Congress said that she “immediately picked up the phone and called” former Mayor Marion Barry after hearing of his derogatory comments against Asians.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D) office said late Thursday afternoon that “Norton told Barry that she was stunned by the offensive nature of the comments.  She reminded Barry of how long she had known him and the values they first shared when they were students together in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the South fighting for racial justice.”

In a video that went viral this week, the councilman says at his primary-night victory party, “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops … They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

Norton said she was “pleased” that Barry would be issuing his own statement on the remarks. However, that came in a series of tweets from Barry. Here, we string them together in the order tweeted:

I’m very sorry for offending the Asian American community. Although taken out of context by many about the conditions of some W8 carryouts the comment was meant to convey that some stores need better service to and engagement with the community than what is provided now.

To improve food places in Ward8, owners have to move beyond status quo.Take down the plexiglass, offer healthy food,keep biz clean&inviting. And anyone NOT from Ward 8, you may want to actually EXPERIENCE the difference of what IS and what CAN BE here in SE.

I admit, I could and should have said it differently. But the facts are still very present in our daily lives here. We are tired of sub-standard treatment, tired of being kept an arms length distance, tired of the lack of community engagement. As stated before, our neighborhoods have made remarkable improvement over the last 7 years. Our retail needs to catch up. It costs nothing to keep the store clean. Nothing to add healthy items. Nothing to know your patrons. Nothing to have the will to do better.

I do hope that as much attention focused on my admittedly bad choice of words will be given to the very real and present retail needs of SE.

Barry further told The Washington Post that his apology was “as solid as Marion Barry can make it, and believe it, because I have a history of not doing anything to purposely disparage any group of people.”

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