'Yellow families' remark draws sharp criticism

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 25 Oct 2021

An Oklahoma state senator is drawing criticism for referring to Asian Americans as "yellow families'' during a legislative committee meeting on racial inequity.

Republican Dave Rader of Tulsa made the comment to Oklahoma Policy Institute analyst Damion Shade following Shade's comments during an interim study on racial inequality in economics and the criminal justice system.

"It wasn't until well into your presentation did you go to yellow families, you left yellow families out for quite a while,'' Rader said.

"You mean Asian Americans?'' Shade replied.

"You use black term, white term, brown term so I was just gonna jump in there with you,'' Rader said, then began asking questions about black families.

The word "yellow'' is considered a derogatory term when used in reference to East Asians. In the late 1800s, Chinese Americans were deemed the "yellow peril,'' despite living in the United States for years.

Oklahoma Democratic Party chair Alicia Andrews said that it's frustrating Rader would make such a comment during a study on racial inequality.

"I reiterate the call I made this spring urging all our elected leaders in the legislature to take diversity, equity and inclusive training,'' Andrews said.

Democratic representative Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City, an Asian American, said Rader's words were upsetting.

"I remember people asking me if my dad had 'yellow fever' because my mother is Korean,'' Munson said.

"While it may not be intentional, that doesn't mean that harm isn't caused.''

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