Silicon Valley civil rights leaders are demanding that Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) resign for allegedly “racist and bigoted” remarks about blacks and Latinos.
But Chu adamantly insists that they have misquoted him. And some of his critics sound like they are singling him out because earlier this month he abstained from voting on ACA 5, the ballot measure which would reverse Proposition 209, California’s ban on racial preference policies.
At issue are Chu’s remarks in a June 11 article in the Chinese language newspaper World Journal. He was discussing his decision to abstain from the Assembly vote. It was approved by a vote of 60-14.
According to a translation of the article by the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP Chu said that when he was a school board member Latino parents told him that “they did not care about their children’s education, they are busy with their livelihoods, and they did not intend to let their children attend college.”
He also allegedly said, “many Hispanic and African ethnic groups are unable to compete or have the ability to continue their studies due to unresolved structural economic and educational problems.”
La Raza Roundtable de California chairman Victor Garza responded angrily that “It’s absurd for him to even say that. No parent would even dare say that about their kids.”
Apparently alluding to Chu’s vote abstention on ACA 5, Garza said this “guy is actually showing his colors as a very racist person. He didn’t say that to us, he said that to a Chinese newspaper.”
At a press conference last week demanding his resignation, civil rights activist Walter Wilson of the Black Kitchen Cabinet asked indignantly, “This is his contribution to what’s happening in this country right now?”
He said that Chu “should do the right thing for everyone, and step aside and resign from the California Assembly immediately.”
But Chu is holding his ground.
In a lengthy statement posted on his website he said that “as a lifetime member of the NAACP, an immigrant, and a strong and consistent supporter of communities of color, I fully acknowledge and understand the systemic racism that people of color face then and now.”
“Recently, there was an English translated document of an article in the World Journal, which was originally written in Chinese, suggesting that I made negative comments related to ACA 5. The article was written with the reporter’s own opinion and not direct or literal quotes from me. World Journal has since published an article clearly stating that I did not make those remarks.”
The Assemblyman said, “I unequivocally deny saying that Latinos do not value education — especially as a public servant who has a track record of supporting diversity, and human and civil rights. Specifically, I said that there exists deep institutional barriers for Latino and African American students. What was not said in the World Journal was that I said the solution would be more funding for schools serving our underserved communities.”
He then listed his liberal credentials.
“As a member of the California Legislature Progressive Caucus, I have authored/co-authored and voted for ALL progressive policies such as seats at the table for civil rights group to influence reforms, sanctuary state, justice reforms (i.e. stricter use of force standards, training on de-escalation, removal of sentence enhancement, and promoting rehabilitation), free college, environmental justice, funding for immigrants, stopping ICE from tearing families apart, better training on hate crimes for peace officers, and many more.”
Chu, an immigrant from Taiwan, is running for Santa Clara Supervisor instead of seeking re-election to the Assembly.
His opponent blasted his alleged remarks and alluded to his abstention.
“It is clear from his comments that Mr. Chu understands systemic racial inequity exists, and yet he chose inaction,” said former Sunnvyale Mayor Otto Lee. “Then to use non-English media to make racist statements and to mislead his Chinese speaking constituents about this vote is incredibly troubling. To speak with such openly prejudiced rhetoric hidden under the veil of a language barrier is both unacceptable and tone deaf to this moment in our nation’s history.”