Chinese organizations file complaint against Kuderer, alleging racism

The complaint alleges Kuderer used a racist term and lacks respect for Chinese Americans.

By Leona Vaughn

and Jake Berg

Washington Asians for Equality and the American Coalition for Equality filed a complaint to the Secretary of Senate and Senate Counsels against Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, demanding an apology for her use of what they considered racist language.

The complaint, filed Jan. 20, was over something she said during a hearing before the Senate Housing and Affordability Committee on Jan. 17. Kuderer used the term “Chinese fire drill” to refer to a brief moment of confusion during the hearing.

“Chinese fire drill is a racist term,” Linda Yang, head of Washington Asians for Equality, said in an email. “We are deeply offended. There are many Chinese Americans living in Sen. Kuderer’s 48th District. Her senseless use of this offensive racist term demonstrated her racist attitude towards Chinese Americans that we have experienced over and over.”

Kuderer apologized for her remarks in her opening statement to the committee on Jan. 20.

“I actually want to apologize for an insensitive remark I made in committee last week,” Kuderer said. “I will certainly endeavor to be more mindful. In all the confusion that was happening on [Jan. 17] — calling of witnesses — it was an attempt to be lighthearted but sometimes, we don’t say things the way we really intend them to be.”

According to Andy McVicar, communications specialist for the senator, Kuderer’s apology during the committee meeting on Jan. 20, was given about 12 hours prior to an official complaint being filed with the Secretary of Senate and Senate Counsels.

In a Jan. 20 letter to the Secretary of Senate and Senate Counsels, the two organizations demanded an official apology from Kuderer to the Chinese American community.

“We will follow through and make sure that proper investigations and actions will be taken,” Yang said in an email. “Our community deserves to be treated respectfully.”

On Feb. 3 Kuderer gave an additional statement regarding her remarks used on Jan. 17.

“I made an insensitive comment during a confusing moment in a committee meeting. It was brought to my attention by a colleague and I immediately recognized the need for an apology, which I did at the very next committee meeting. I did not intend to insult anyone. My apology was heartfelt and is to everyone, including Chinese Americans,” Kuderer said. “I’ve spent my 30-year legal career fighting on behalf of minorities and women against racism and sexism. I regret the mistake I made. And I look forward to continuing my work fighting discrimination and racism.”


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