The context for this little chestnut of racial nastiness was a heated floor debate in the Illinois legislature over a proposed education reform bill. The fireworks started when Democratic Representative Linda Chapa LaVia, who is Hispanic, delivered a speech criticizing charter schools. Ms. Chapa LaVia was no doubt casting aspersions on behalf of teachers unions — who’ve contributed heavily to her campaigns, are bankrupting the state, and don’t much care for competition. In defense of the status quo — which traps far too many children, especially children of color, in failing public schools — Chapa LaVia appealed to her fellow minorities within the chamber. In doing so, she took a racial shot at her Republican colleagues, pointedly noting that “we’re all over on this side [of the aisle], right?” That didn’t sit well with some people, including State Representative John Anthony, who is a black Republican (via Champion News):
LaVia: “Listen to me, minorities! I’m over here, because we’re all over on this side, right? What you’ll also find…
[Jeers and shouts from Republicans]
LaVia: “Wait, we have a half. We have a half.”
A half. Is that how Rep. LaVia would refer to a certain former member of the legislature in Springfield? I suspect not. But in the heat of the moment, she needed a shortcut to denigrate the racial “authenticity” of one of her colleagues in order to rescue her inflammatory point. So she sneered “we have a half,” then continued her harangue. Stay classy, Linda.
UPDATE – Republicans demanded an apology, and got one. Sort of. “I apologize if offended anybody over there.”