WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Marion Barry Offends Polish People During Apology To Asians

Play associated audio
Marion Barry, shown here at the D.C. Council in January, inadvertently used a derogatory term for another ethnic group while issuing an apology to Asian Americans for some of his earlier comments yesterday. 
Mallory Noe-Payne
Marion Barry, shown here at the D.C. Council in January, inadvertently used a derogatory term for another ethnic group while issuing an apology to Asian Americans for some of his earlier comments yesterday. 

D.C. Council member Marion Barry may have offended another ethnic group yesterday while in the process of apologizing for his recent controversial remarks targeting the Asian community.

At a press conference yesterday, Barry publicly apologized for comments he made in April about Filipino nurses and "dirty shops" owned by Asians. Then, as he outlined the racial tensions that have affected the United States throughout its history, he inadvertently used a derogatory term for people of Polish origin to make his point. 

"The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell, the chinese caught hell," Barry said. "That didn't start yesterday; it started some time back."

After the press conference, while some Asian-American advocacy groups say they are grateful for the apology, they say the issue is more about restoring mutual respect. 

"While he apologized, that's not really the important part," said Vincent Villano, a spokesman for the DC Chapter of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress. "I think the important part for us is actually working together to do the work that's needed … we believe we have a true commitment from his office to do that."

Villano said there's important work to be done in Ward 8, especially in the cases of some of the stores that do actually live up to Barry's characterization of them as "dirty." 

"A lot of the issues that Council member Barry brought up in his remarks were true to a certain degree regarding what we called quote "dirty Asian shops" and dilapidated buildings," Villano said. "And we are working to set up regular meetings with Council member Barry's office to think about very specific policies to improve those conditions for Asian American owned businesses and really all small businesses in Ward 8."

In his statement, Barry said he was "enlightened by the dialogue," adding he wanted Ward 8 to be a model of diversity and inclusiveness. 

This morning, Barry told the Washington Post that he misspoke and that he should have said "Polish," rather than "Polack." 

NPR

'We're Mostly Republicans': New Hampshire Voters Explained By 'Our Town'

After NPR's Bob Mondello used The Music Man to help explain the Iowa caucuses, he wished there was a musical of Our Town so he could do the same for New Hampshire. It turns out there is one.
NPR

Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish-Farming Business

For the first time, companies can apply to set up fish farms in U.S. federal waters. The government says the move will help reduce American dependence on foreign seafood and improve security.
WAMU 88.5

What's Behind Trends In U.S. Violent Crime Rates

FBI data suggest there was a slight uptick in violent crime in the first half of last year, but overall violent crime rates in the U.S. have dropped dramatically over the last twenty years. What led to the long-term decline, and why do some say it’s likely to continue?

WAMU 88.5

Blocked: Twitter's Role In Combating Violent Extremism

Over the course of seven months, Twitter has suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.