A Republican lawmaker in Arizona is facing backlash over racial remarks for the second time this year, after a recording was released of him saying that black people ‘don’t blend in’.
State Representative David Stringer resigned on Friday as chair of the Arizona House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee after audio of the new remarks was released by the Phoenix New Times.
Stringer made the remarks on November 19 after attending a lecture on the midterm election results at Arizona State University, where several students confronted and debated him in the hallway afterwards and apparently secretly recorded the conversation.
Stringer is heard telling the students that ‘diversity in our country is relatively new,’ to which one student, ASU sophomore Stephen Chumra, responds citing Irish and Italian immigration, as well as his own Polish immigrant great-grandfather.
Arizona State Representative David Stringer (seen in June) is under fire again over secretly recorded remarks that black people ‘don’t blend in’ and ‘always look different’
‘They were all European,’ Stringer replied. ‘So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. That’s not the case with African-Americans and other racial groups because they don’t melt in. They don’t blend in. They always look different.’
Chumra asked, ‘Why does looking different matter?’
Stringer responded: ‘I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it doesn’t to a lot of people. It seems to matter to a lot of people who move out of Detroit, who move out of Baltimore. You know we have white flight in this country.’
Stringer went on to say that Somali immigrants don’t look like ‘every other kid’ as previous European immigrants did.
He also called Spanish-speaking students a burden on society because he said educating them costs more.
Incoming Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers called the comments ‘vile’ and ‘unacceptable’ and told Stringer to resign from a plum committee chair assignment. Some Democrats called the comments racist, but Bowers declined to go that far.
‘I don’t want to do there,’ Bowers said in an interview with AP. ‘I think they’re just reprehensible. Racist is so hot it can go beyond.’
Stringer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
David Stringer told the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum in June (left) that integration in schools was hindered by the lack of white children. He is seen on the right in a photo posted on his Facebook
Democratic Rep. Reginald Bolding, who is black, called the comments insensitive.
‘Whether or not Rep. Stringer is racist or not is something that he has to answer for himself,’ Bolding told the AP. ‘I think the words that he uses, the things that he says, absolutely it sounds like that they are racist comments. But whether or not they are that’s something he has to answer for.’
Stringer faced calls to resign from Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Republican Party chairman in June after he said that immigration had made integrating schools impossible.
He refused, saying his comments were cherry-picked and that the immigration question ‘cries out for honest and open public discussion.’
‘Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities,’ he said in a video clip from a political event made public. ‘That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around.’
He also said immigration is ‘politically destabilizing’ and ‘represents an existential threat to the United States.’
Stringer went on to make an awkward public apology to black and Latino community members at Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles, a location that was criticized as itself racially insensitive, but was selected by community activists.
Stringer was handily re-elected November 6 to represent his heavily-Republican Prescott-area district.
After the latest controversy, Representative-elect Raquel Teran, a Democrat, had no trouble calling out Stringer.
‘I am beyond appalled by Mr. Stringer’s racist comments (AGAIN),’ she said in a Twitter post. ‘This is unacceptable and we should be hearing a loud and clear ask for his resignation from all parties and leaders.’
Bowers said he told Stringer to resign from his newly-assigned post as chair of a committee looking at sentencing and recidivism reform.
‘This isn’t David Stringer, this is Representative Stringer. This isn’t Rusty Bowers, it is Speaker-elect Bowers,’ he said.
‘And it’s in those contexts that I have to operate. And it’s unacceptable speech, and he accepted it and apologized, but he was still released’ from his committee chair post.