Oklahoma State Senator Dave Rader (R-OK) used the term “yellow” to describe Asian American families, prompting backlash from the state’s first Asian American woman to be elected to the legislature, reports Rolling Stone.
“Well into your presentation did you go to yellow families?” Rader asked policy analyst Damion Shade. “You left yellow families out for quite a while.”
“You mean Asian Americans,” Shade asked.
“You use black term, white term, brown term so I was just gonna jump in there with you,” Rader said.
“I was just making sure,” said Shade. “Making sure I understood.”
“Asian distraction,” Rader replied.
“Asian Americans,” Shader calmly corrected.
“Because their experience has been totally different than many umm, than many others that have come over.” Rader followed.
The comment didn’t sit well with Oklahoma State Rep Cyndi Munson who voters elected in 2015.
“I’m Asian American, not yellow, she tweeted. “The language used by the Senator is highly offensive and unacceptable.
In its coverage of the controversy, Business Insider referenced NPR’s Code Switch which cited the use of “yellow” throughout history as a slur. Harper’s Weekly referenced the term “yellow peril” in 1898. In 1956, Marvel introduced the Yellow Claw, an Asian villain. His skin had a yellow hue and he featured a long scraggly beard, slanted eyes, and fingers that resembled claws.
Some also accused Rader of pushing the model minority myth when he said “their experience has been totally different from many others that have come over.”
He went on to say that Black families were doing better and “much more intact” before the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
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