Illinois State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia apparently referred to a black Republican colleague as “a half” on the House floor in Springfield.
She later apologized for what appeared to be an example of racially charged rhetoric.
Chapa LaVia, a Democrat, was blasting charter schools on Wednesday, and apparently no one was paying attention, when she declared, “Listen to me minorities, I’m over here, because we’re all on this side [of the aisle], right?” When GOP members seem to be object, she chimed in with “wait, we have a half, we have a half” as she pointed in the direction of the Republicans. See embed below.
According to multiple media accounts, Chapa LaVia was alluding to Rep. John Anthony, a Republican state representative who is reportedly biracial. Anthony has been a member of the Illinois House since 2013 and is a former police officer and current Sheriff’s Deputy.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “Yes, people occasionally lose their cool in Springfield debate. But Chapa LaVia’s comments seemed calculated. Her apology half-hearted. Such an ugly racial comment — on the House floor, with a gallery of onlookers — deserved nothing more from her but a full-throated, heartfelt apology. And it deserves an admonishment from the leadership of her party.”
Rep. Anthony issued a statement that said in part, “Representative Chapa LaVia has apologized twice and I take her at her word that she is regretful for her comments; although I wish she would reconsider her unrelenting efforts to dismantle charter schools in Illinois… As a black Republican, I recognize this is not the first time that race has been used in debate in a legislative forum, nor sadly is it likely to be the last. Our reaction should always be to condemn the use of race as a tool to divide Americans from each other; and instead recommit ourselves to debating public policy differences on their merits; and never on racial, ethnic, or purely partisan grounds.”
Recently, EBONY magazine had to formally apologize for Twitter commentary from a staff editor who slammed Deputy Republican National Committee press secretary Raffi Williams and other black conservatives. EBONY subsequently issued an apology to Williams and the “Black Republican community” that included the following: “In part of the exchange, [the staffer] responded to an attempt at discourse from Williams with words that curtly dismissed him and his suggestion that she be interested in the ‘diversity of thought.’ She also misidentified him, unintentionally, as White. Williams is Black. EBONY strongly believes in the marketplace of ideas. As the magazine of record for the African American community, [the staffer’s] tweets in question do not represent our journalistic standard, tradition or practice of celebrating diverse Black thought… “