Philippine ambassador: Marion Barry comments fuel racism, violence

Local,DC,Alan Blinder

If Marion Barry, under fire for the second time in weeks for insensitive comments about District workers of Asian descent, is looking for support, he shouldn’t ask the Philippine ambassador.

"Councilmember Barry's penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination and violence," said Jose Cuisia, Philippine ambassador to the United States. "Such rhetoric does nothing but harm relations among community members."

Barry's office didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Barry drew Cuisia's attention after the former D.C. mayor singled out Filipino nurses while speaking at a D.C. Council hearing this week.

"If you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines," Barry said Monday. "And no offense, but let's grow our own teachers, let's grow our own nurses ... so that we don't have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places [and] having to hire people from somewhere else."

That comment came nearly three weeks after Barry made insensitive remarks about Asian business owners in his Southeast Washington ward -- comments for which Barry apologized.

"We [have] got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops," Barry said then. "They ought to go."

The remarks, Cuisia said, make for a disturbing pattern.

"This is not the first time such intolerant and narrow-minded comments came from him," said the ambassador, who called Barry's most recent remarks "deplorable" and called for an apology.

On Tuesday, Barry indicated he wasn't planning to apologize and refused to answer questions about the incident.

"I'm sick of you all," Barry said.

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