Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry made comments Monday about Filipina nurses who work in District hospitals, just weeks after Barry told his supporters that Asian businesses "ought to go."
At a hearing, Barry told the president and board members of the University of the District of Columbia that the school should be supplying D.C. residents to serve in the "lucrative" posts of nurses and teachers.
But that was not the case, Barry said.
"In fact, it's so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines," Barry said. "And no offense, but let's grow our own teachers, let's grow our own nurses—and so that we don't have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places—having to hire people from somewhere else."
I will defend Marion Barry on this one notion: By all means, we should "grow our own" skilled workers. But the best way to do that is not through jawboning local hospitals about hiring decisions, or legislating employee set-asides, or using your official status as a representative of the people to mischaracterize the existence of otherly born skilled workers as "bad"–it's by improving the K-12 education system. Marion Barry has been in local office since the 1970s, and during that time Washington, D.C.'s public education has always been unforgivably awful. And when a Korean-American came to town to try and fix it, Barry treated her like this:
I'm gonna raise a subject that I know is going to set off the Washington Post. We have a clash of cultures. We have a clash of cultures. Everybody that comes here talks about Michelle Rhee not including people, not being collaborative, not listening….
The reality is that this school system is 90, 92 percent African American, Latino American, and a small number of white students. Everyone knows that this country is a melting pot, but there are distinct cultures in this country. The African-American culture, because of our history and a lot of other reasons, has a distinct culture difference with non-white America. Latinos are the same thing. Does not mean that non-African-American, non-Latino cannot teach, cannot administer, but when the cultures are so great, Ms. Rhee comes from a culture…that's autocratic, a culture that's dictatorial, a culture of hierarchical in their discussions.
This is the same racist flapdoodle that got Barry into mildly warm water earlier this month, only with a stronger policy kick in the nuts. The District of Columbia, with its utterly debased one-party political culture, continues sentencing its non-wealthy children to prison-like schools, and accusing those who would reform that tragedy of being racists. It is disgusting, and unconscionable, and it will be like this for as long as people keep rewarding Barry-like behavior. Take it away, Kennedy!
As for Filipina nurses, they deserve a medal for getting through this: