Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry is under fire for the second time in a month, this time for criticizing local hospitals for hiring Filipino nurses.
During a D.C. Council hearing on Monday, Barry (D), who represents Ward 8, made some comments that singled out people from the Philippines who work in D.C. hospitals:
“It’s so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” Barry said, according to WJLA news.
Barry went on to say, “And no offense, but let's grow our own teachers, let's grow our own nurses -- and so that we don't have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places -- having to hire people from somewhere else."
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations called Barry’s remarks “racist” and “bigoted,” according to the Washington Post.
“We reject this continued Asian bashing by elected officials like Mr. Barry and demand that he apologize for his insensitive and irresponsible remarks,” Ed Navarra, chairman of NaFFAA, said in a statement. “We also call on him to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our community so we can better educate the broader American public about the significant contributions that our diverse immigrant communities have made to this country.”
On Tuesday, a coalition of 27 Asian-American advocacy groups began mounting an online petition drive through the website Say Sorry Barry, calling on the councilman to issue a formal apology for his remarks.
In a letter accompanying the petition, the group says, "Councilmember Barry needs to be reminded that demonizing immigrants or any segment of the community has no place in any constructive conversation, this rhetoric distracts focus from the real problems."
Reached for comment about the petition, Barry told WTOP his words have been taken out of context.
"What I've asked the media to do, because some of them want to conspire to make it appear I'm opposed to these people, to stop misquoting me," Barry said.
"I am in solid support, all of my life, of helping and solving problems and injustices, wherever they may be," he said.