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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.

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