Asian American Groups Launch “Say Sorry Barry” Campaign

From a press release:

Today, a coalition of DC Asian American advocacy groups launched the Say Sorry Barry Campaign urging DC Councilmember Marion Barry to apologize for his insensitive remarks toward the Asian American community, most recently about Filipino nurses, and to uphold his commitment to meet with local Asian American leaders. On Monday evening this week, Councilmember Barry said of the University of the District of Columbia’s Nursing Program:

“In fact, it is so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines, 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.”

In response to his comments the Say Sorry Barry Campaign issued a letter, part of which read:

“[W]e take issue with Councilmember Barry’s claims that Filipino nurses, teachers and immigrants are not members of “our” community. In saying so, Councilmember Barry dismisses immigrants’ talents and contributions to our neighborhoods because of who they are and where they come from.”

The letter has received support from 27 local and national Asian Pacific American advocacy groups including Filipino Americans for Progress, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Three weeks ago, Councilmember Barry faced criticism for his remarks aimed at “dirty” Asian American business owners in his ward. Following the criticism, Barry agreed to meet with the Mayor’s Office of the D.C. Commission on AAPI Affairs last week. Councilmember Barry did not attend that meeting.

The Say Sorry Barry Campaign is urging Councilmember Barry to stop using divisive rhetoric and to understand that his Asian American constituents deserve the same respect as other District residents. As stated in the sign-on letter, the campaign hopes to support Councilmember Barry’s work in improving our communities, but that work must happen on a foundation of trust and respect.

30 Comment

  • Say sorry? That’s it? How about asking for his resignation?

  • What a buffoon.

    Given all of Barry’s health problems, I wonder how many Filipino nurses he’s had taking care of him. And this is the thanks they get?!?

    Barry is an embarassment to the city and it’s too bad he’s coasting his way to re-election.

  • Now that they’ve not cleaned up their shops in ward 8…

    I’m totally against generalizations here, and against Barry for making these statements, I also know that a ton of the shops throughout DC have only recently been getting rid of their legacy of bullet proof glass, dirty floors, out of date goods, and generally bad demeanor.

    People need to also accept responsibility for this despite the bad packaging of the message.

    • They wouldn’t need bullet proof glass if people didn’t rob them using guns.

      • Okay… People still rob stores with guns, so then why all of a sudden is all the plexiglass coming down in DC? Even at the height of DC being a murder capital and all, there was barely any plexiglass in Georgetown, and 7-11 has NEVER had plexiglass when you’d think it would be a prime target. It’s an illusion of safety, they can still rob you when you’re going home from work. It also makes a statement about what shop owners think about their customers.

        If you lived here in the late 80s and 90s, you’d realize that it was an epidemic at one point, and that Barry’s problem is that he’s still stuck in that era.

    • It would be one thing if Barry were complaining about plexiglass, uncleanliness, or some other generic problem. He’s not. He’s accusing “Asians” and “Filipinos” of disregarding their customers and taking nursing jobs, presumably issues that affect his voters.

      It’s his race-baiting that is the problem here, not any legacy of plexiglass partitions, whether warranted or not.

      • We were talking about the first statement he made about Korean Shop Owners (prior to this one). Contextual discussion, not topical discussion.

        • I understand that. In his previous comments Barry called out “Asians” for having “dirty shops.” Why didn’t he just say “irresponsible shop owners”?

          Basically Barry is a race-baiting opportunist who likes to use divisiveness to get a name for himself and whip up public support. He’s the worst kind of retail politician.

          • I think what Barry said is terrible. However, I think he might have a point: is it not better for shop owners (of any race) to add to their neighborhood and operate in a respectful manner. I don’t agree that it’s only Asians and I think Barry did himself and a real issue a disservice by phrasing it that way. However, I think people in his ward deserve to have businesses that are a asset to their communities.

  • Apologize, apologize again. As a token of forgiveness, I ask for your support. Forgiveness, please!

  • He is an embarrassment to this city and should resign.

  • Does anyone actually expect anything to come of this? Why stop at apology? This man needs to resign and allow someone with the capacity to do good things for W8 into office. You would think after his “dirty Asian shops” gaffe from a few weeks ago would make him be a bit more careful, but his most recent anti-Asian screed proves that he has lost his common sense – and a long time ago at that.

    On a side note, has anyone else noticed fewer plexiglass windows in corner shops and carryouts? The Chinese joint near me recently took down the panel in front of their register. Progress, I suppose?

  • This is the same “us versus them” rhetoric that Barry has used to manipulate his constituency since day one. I wish they would just stop listening to him and have him fade into obscurity. Knowing that I pay for part of his six figure salary pisses me off to no end.

    • and you get to help pay for the prosecution/administration of his never-ending encounters with the law! good stuff.

  • I’d like to hear from his constituents if they think it’s okay to target people based on race, cause I can think of a lot of people and groups who love to do it.

  • Why is Marion Barry still around? This city is a banana republic, at best.

    • When did MB start representing the whole city?

      • Even if just one ward elected him, that is still a shame. Someone with this guy’s profile has no business serving in public office. And I’m not just talking about smoking crack with a prostitute. I’m talking about corruption, racism, etc.

        • Many Koreans etc roll up in Benzes with Va plates to collect the cash from liquour stores, nasty plexicarryouts etc but when a community changes, they suddenly have the capital to renovate and provide fresh groceries or a wine bar.

          • So do businessmen of every ethnicity…you can debate the ethics, but it doesn’t change the fact that ascribing this behavior to a specific racial or ethnic group is a pretty foul thing to do.

  • Good luck with that. I wouldn’t worry about waiting by the phone.

  • thebear

    Where is the Nuclear PC Backlash against Barry that would materialize if any white guy were to say any of the things he has? And, what does it say about his constituents voting for him in such numbers and not calling him out for his remarks? Folks need to wake up and realize that antics like his have far more to do with why racism and discrimination still plague us than they want to admit.

  • Allison

    I’d prefer the “Say Good-bye” campaign.

  • I looked up Barry’s council page recently – how ironic is it that the committee he chairs is supposed to represent the city’s Asian population, among others. Can we at a minimum get our other council members to strip him of any chairmanship and any real authority?

    And what can I do to help some other candidate from Ward 8 with an effective write in campaign?!?!

  • The guy’s senile. But really, what did he say about the bulletproof carryouts, liquor stores and nasty corner stores that wasn’t true, but for the fact that now Ethiopians own the latter. They are the emblem of the ghetto. Notice the owners who are Asians roll up in Benzes with Va plates. Indeed, then there’s gentrification they either hold out for a kings ransom, or mirculously come up with the capital they whine about not having for a true community market selling fresh food…and turn the place into a wine bar.

  • I don’t think what Barry said was wrong at all from a black perspective. He live in an area of DC that is an majority all black area. But Asian business come into black community not only in SE , but all over the country and are rude and serve you items behind a bulletproof glass. As a black man its an insult and degrading when you chose to spend your money in a business and the serve you behind bulletproof glass not to just put blame on them cause the liquor store in this area got it bad too. So what he really is saying is that dont do business in black community where you already don’t hire black workers but to add insult to injury you operate behind a glass.

    • Then why don’t you shop somewhere else if you’re so offended?

      Commerce is a two-way street. If people boycotted the businesses they claim are so harmful to their communities, the businesses would change.

      Having a blowhard ex-felon make racist statements may be feel-good politics for some folks, but ultimately accomplishes little.

  • Asian shop owners in Ward 8 are not the only ones with dirty shops and plexiglass. And no one is stopping anyone from getting an education and becoming a nurse. Marion Barry is a troll, next

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