Target: Colorado State Senator Vicki Marble
Goal: Apologize for racist remarks about diet and poverty.
During a meeting of the Colorado State Legislature’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force, State Senator Vicki Marble offered her opinions about racial disparities in poverty rates. Unfortunately, they consisted of inaccuracies and ugly stereotypes involving food.
Marble stated that the African-American community had a high concentration of poverty because of large amounts of fried chicken in its diet. She said “When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race: sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it. Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you-I love it.”
She also applied similar logic to the Hispanic community, stating “the Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables, and you go down there and they are much thinner than they are up here. They’ve changed their diet. I’ve read studies on that.”
When criticized by fellow lawmakers, Marble wrote “my comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community. I am saddened that they were taken in that regard.” However, she did not apologize. She should. In the case of African-Americans, she used a racist stereotype popularized by the 1915 film Birth of a Nation to “explain” the high poverty rates facing that community. And like many other countries, Mexico is plagued by malnutrition and obesity, the rate of the latter currently higher than in the United States. By signing this petition, you will demand Senator Marble apologize for her remarks and look for real solutions to poverty in minority communities.
Dear Senator Marble,
Recently, you came under fire for remarks you made at the Colorado Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force. You attributed high poverty rates in minority communities to food. Specifically, you more or less said African-Americans were poor because of eating too much fried chicken, and Mexican-Americans were so because they eat less vegetables than in Mexico.
Such rationale not only is not a real explanation for minority disparity in poverty rates, it crosses the line into racial insensitivity. For example, the supposed African-American attachment to fried chicken comes from a racial stereotype popularized by the 1915 film Birth of a Nation. Likewise Mexico, like many other countries, grapples with problems of malnutrition and obesity.
So far, you have not apologized for these statements. You merely wrote that “my comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community. I am saddened that they were taken in that regard.” I ask that you do so, and focus your attention on the true causes of poverty rather than ugly stereotypes about food.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Paul Swansen via Flickr