After receiving community outrage, African American Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit) issued an apology for telling numerous voters to not vote for the “ching-chong” – referring to her Chinese American political rival, Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit.)
Scott reportedly made her rounds to numerous polling stations throughout Motown Tuesday night making racist rants against her Democratic opponent in order to secure votes for herself on racial grounds.
“Scott is alleged to have referred to Chang as ‘ching-chang’ and ‘the ching-chong’ to multiple voters outside polling precincts during last Tuesday's election,” the Metro Times reported. “She's also said to have called one of Chang's campaign volunteers an ‘immigrant,’ saying, ‘You don’t belong here,’ and ‘I want you out of my country.’”
Addressing the backlash after defeat
After Scott’s victorious Asian American opponent received more than four times the number of votes she did in Michigan’s primary earlier this week, multiple groups in the Detroit area demanded that she apologize for her bigoted remarks.
“More than a dozen community groups have called on Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit) to apologize for a series of racial slurs sources say she used to describe her primary election opponent, Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit),” the Metro Times’ Violet Ikonomova informed. “Chang and Scott were running in the Democratic primary for state Sen. District 1, [and] Chang won the election with 49 percent of the vote; Scott came in third with 11 percent of the vote.”
Numerous witnesses testifying to Scott’s racist comments – along with multiple community groups and politicians – eventually pressured her to issue a public apology.
“[The] African-American state lawmaker issued a statement through her lawyer expressing regret for using racial slurs to describe her Asian primary election opponent in a state Senate race,” WND informed.
It was not until two days after Michigan’s primary that Cook released a statement saying she was sorry for her inappropriate remarks.
“[These] are not the kinds of comments that should be made, nor are they the kind of comments I would normally make,” Scott declared, according to WND. “I humbly apologize to Rep. Chang and to her husband, Mr. [Sean] Gray, and to the broader Asian American community.”
Scott included Chang’s husband in the apology after ridiculing him – as an African American – for marring an Asian.
“The various off-color remarks were heard by multiple people connected with Chang, including Chang's husband,” Ikonomova explained. “Gray – who is black – says Scott then went on to call him a ‘fool’ for marrying Chang.”
Chang’s husband reportedly approached Scott outside a precinct on Detroit’s east side after overhearing the black politician denigrating his wife.
"I … asked her not to speak about my wife in that manner,” Gray told the Metro Times. “At that time, she said to the voter that, 'These immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.’ Further, she said it 'disgusts her seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.'"
Another African American, Kalaya Long – who volunteers with Voices of Women to Win – also addressed Scott’s inflammatory remarks, overhearing her telling a voter at Detroit’s East English Village precinct, “Thanks for voting for me – you don’t need to vote for that ching-chang.”
With all the racial and sexist tensions of the past, she was amazed at the ignorance of Scott’s comments.
"As an African-American woman, I've been called the N-word before in my life, and you never forget it," Long shared with the Metro Times. "Each time, it's shocking and appalling and disgusting, so when you hear someone that's a minority and a woman using slurs against another minority that's a woman, it's just mind-boggling, and it just felt dirty."
Chang also called Scott out for her unprofessional and inappropriate remarks about the very people she was striving to represent in public office.
"These comments are offensive to all Asian Americans," Chang expressed to the Metro Times. "It isn't about me – it's about an elected official disrespecting entire populations – whether they be Asian American, immigrant or residents of Sen. District 1 … or [Cook's] own current house district."
The disturbing comments were also condemned by Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon.
“We expect better from anyone who wants to call themselves a Michigan Democrat,” Dillon proclaimed in a statement, according to Fox News. “Bettie Cook Scott needs to apologize to the entire Asian-American community. If an individual doesn’t share our fundamental values of tolerance, decency and respect, they should find another party.”
Uproar in multiple minority groups
Numerous minority-led political groups joined the call for Scott’s apology, including the Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote-Michigan (APIAVote-MI), the Association of Chinese Americans, the African Bureau of Immigration & Social Affairs, the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Equality Michigan and American Citizens for Justice.
"Elected officials should be held to high standards of professional conduct and respect people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds," APIAVote-MI declared in a statement representing the groups calling Scott to publicly apologize. "No elected official or candidate for office – regardless of political affiliation – should use stereotypical imagery or language. The use of these stereotypes is counter to the progress our country has made over past decades to encourage respect for all communities."
The groups also issued a media release listing off Scott’s numerous racial rants, which included deriding Chang’s staff.
“She also told Rep. Chang’s campaign staff that she called Chang’s volunteers ‘ching-chongs,’ saying ‘I called them ching-chongs – that’s what they are!’” the release recounted.
Endorsed by Democratic Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in her bid to become a state senator, Scott still represents the southeast side of Detroit and three of the Grosse Pointes.
Even though she did not respond to Detroit’s daily, the Metro Times’, email and phone requests to discuss her remarks, she did acknowledge in her attorney-released apology statement how her words worked to further ignite America’s racial tensions – instead of diffuse them.
“We live in a time of increasing divisiveness,” Scott included at the end of her apology, according to Fox News. “As a state representative, I should never do anything to contribute to an atmosphere of divisiveness, and for that, I am terribly sorry. I look forward to meeting with Rep. Chang to express my apologies directly to her as soon as she’s able to meet with me.”