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Pinoy Abroad

POEA, PHL envoy want apology for US politician's racist remark vs. nurses

May 1, 2012 8:45am
The Philippine Overseas Employment Association (POEA) and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia, Jr. want an apology from former Washington D.C. mayor and now Councilmember Marion Shepilov Barry for his supposedly "racist" comments against Filipino nurses.

Barry, Jr., 76, on April 5 was caught on WRC-TV cameras saying: “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops. They ought to go, I’ll just say that right now, you know. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

A report of the Washington Post said Barry, on April 6, apologized for his remarks via Twitter, saying: "I admit, I could and should have said it differently. But the facts are still very present in our daily lives here."

In an e-mail to GMA News Online on Monday, POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said 
"All around the world and especially in the United States, Filipino nurses are known for their medical and technical proficiency, excellent English and other language skills, and most importantly, a caring bedside manner."
 
"This is what the unfortunate statement made by the D.C. politician has brushed aside and forsaken," Cacdac added.

Cacdac believes that Filipino nurses in the US will continue with with their "exemplary dedication to their profession [and] will keep focused and continue to deliver quality service to their patients" despite the negative remarks issued by Barry.

"Deplorable"

Last week, in a statement, Cuisia said: “The remarks of District of Columbia Councilmember Marion Barry criticizing local hospitals for hiring Filipino nurses are deplorable… He owes Filipino nurses an apology for his recent tirade.” 

“This is not the first time such intolerant and narrow-minded comments came from him. Just three weeks ago, he made the prejudiced observation that Asian-owned businesses were “dirty shops,”” Cuisia added.

“Councilmember Barry’s penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination, and violence. Such rhetoric does nothing but harm relations among community members,” Cuisia claimed.

Fight for "jobs, jobs, jobs"

Meanwhile, defending his remark about Filipino nurses, Barry said in a report of the news site Washington Times said: “My fight is for jobs, jobs, jobs… I represent a ward that needs someone to fight for jobs. We welcome each and every kind of business into Ward 8, regardless of your ethnic grouping.”
 
The Washington Times said Barry earlier said the city should “grow our own nurses” rather than “scrounging in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”

On April 3, "mere moments after a landslide victory in the Democratic primary election," Barry said “dirty shops” run by Asians in Ward 8 “ought to go” and be replaced by stores with black owners.

Call for apology

Meanwhile, various Asian American groups urged Barry to apologize for his "insensitive"remarks about Filipino nurses.
 
“The first step in this work requires Councilmember Barry to issue a formal apology for his statements and join us for a community forum to discuss how we can work together to build the DC we all believe in and belong to,” Marissa Usman, president at the Philippine Nurses Association of the Washington DC Metropolitan Region, said in an online petition signed by several organizations.
 
“We are extremely disappointed and dismayed to be unfairly maligned by an elected official like DC Councilmember Marion Barry. For many decades…Filipino health care professionals have become a vital part of America’s health care system and we are proud of the work we do,” Usman said.
 
The organizations calling for Barry's apology are:
 
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
  • Asian American Action Group
  • Asian American Justice Center, member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance,
  • Asian Pacific American Legal Center, member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
  • Asian Pacific Americans for Progress
  • Asian Pacific Islander American Vote
  • Boat People SOS
  • Hmong National Development, Inc.
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress
  • National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse
  • National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
  • National Coalition on Asian Pacific American Community Development
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians
  • National Federation of Filipino American Associations
  • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
  • OCA
  • Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • South Asian Americans Leading Together
  • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Netizens may join the call for Barry's apology by clicking here. - VVP, GMA News