Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told a group of Asian Americans “I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are,” reports the Washington Post.
The remarks seen below were followed by a joke about “keeping his Wong’s straight.”
Word of Reid’s remarks quickly spread and he has since apologized.
“My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing,” he said.
Acting Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lee of Asian Pacific American Advocates/OCA released the following statement:
“Senator Reid’s comments are offensive and racist to Asian Pacific Americans. He falsely assumes that our communities continue to perpetuate the model minority stereotype, when we have been actively working to highlight the vast socioeconomic disparities within our communities. If Senator Reid doesn’t know, Asian Pacific Americans include ethnic communities that have some of the highest rates of poverty and lowest rates of academic success among all ethnic and racial groups in the United States – an advocacy point that many APA organizations have continued to mobilize around to ensure necessary funding to address these discrepancies.
“Additionally, the Senator’s comment about keeping his Wongs straight is, simply put, racist and disgusting. It implies that Asian Pacific Americans are identical, monolithic, and interchangeable and devalues our individual identities, cultures, and heritage. Though we understand the Senator has apologized, half-hearted apologies are not enough. He must make intentional efforts to work with Asian Pacific Americans in a culturally acceptable and appropriate manner.”
This is the just the latest in public gaffes made by Reid. You can read more about those gaffes in the Washington Post.