Sen. David Rader (R-OK) has faced backlash for using the term “yellow” when describing Asian American families during a recent state senate presentation about the racial wealth gap.
What happened: On Oct. 20, Damion Shade, a policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute, was holding a presentation on how racism affects the wealth gap between white and families of color and white families in the U.S when Rader asked him about Asian families while calling them “yellow,” according to Rolling Stone.
- “Well, into your presentation, did you go to yellow families?” the Oklahoma senator asked Shade after his presentation. “You left yellow families out for quite a while.”
- Shade then asked the senator if he was referring to Asian Americans, but Rader replied, “You use Black term, white term, brown term [sic] so I was just going to jump in there with you.”
- “I was just making sure. Making sure I understood,” Shade said, to which Rader replied with, “Asian distraction.” The policy analyst then corrected him, saying, “Asian Americans.”
- “Because their experience has been totally different [than many] others that have come over,” Rader continued.
The backlash: Alicia Andrews, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said it was troubling how Rader made his comments, Business Insider reported.
- “The study was about racial inequities and here we are talking about his misuse of language,” Andrews said, adding that she asked legislators to “go through a diversity equity inclusion course” earlier this year after some of them made problematic comments.
- Rep. Cyndi Munson, the first Asian American woman elected to the Oklahoma Legislature, tweeted that the language Rader used in the presentation was “highly offensive and unacceptable.”
I’m Asian American, not yellow. The language used by the Senator is highly offensive and unacceptable. For my fellow colleagues to be so unaware of the words they use & how they might harm people is exactly why we need open & honest dialogue on racism. #okleg #AAPI https://t.co/QzRKjBp40X
— Cyndi Munson (@CyndiMunson85) October 21, 2021
- The senator released a statement to KFOR but never addressed the racial slur he used during the presentation.
- “As a legislator, I have continued this important work because I believe each and every person in our state and our country should have an opportunity to pursue the American Dream,” the statement declared. “As I’ve done throughout my career, I am committed to eliminating barriers that might make the pursuit of that dream more difficult.”
Featured Image via Oklahoma Senate Republicans