Asian Americans blast Texas congressman’s call for easier names

April 10th, 2009 - 3:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr.10 (ANI): A Texas lawmaker suggestion that voters of Asian descent adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with” at the polls has outraged the Asian American community.

According to Fox News, Texas Republican Representative Betty Brown made these comments on Tuesday as Ramey Ko, an associate member of the Organization of Chinese Americans, testified before the Texas House Elections Committee on voter identification legislation.

Ko testified that people of Asian descent frequently have difficulties voting due to differences in their legal transliterated names and the English name shown on their driver’s licenses.

Brown asked Ko: “Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

Brown later said, “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

The Texas Democratic Party called on Brown to apologize on Wednesday.

The exchange, which has appeared on YouTube, has angered many Asian-Americans.

“It really goes to show you that no matter how much progress is made when it comes to race, ignorance still exists in America,” said Brad Baldia, executive vice president of the National Association of Asian American Professionals.

“It’s a slap in the face and it goes to show that there needs to be more education of our government in terms of diversity in America,” Baldia added.

Karen Narasaki, president and executive of the Asian American Justice Center, said Brown’s comments indicate a lack of understanding.

Jordan Berry, a spokesman for Brown, defended the lawmaker and said her comments were not racially motivated.

Berry said Brown apologized to Ko shortly after the hearing. (ANI)

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