Racist, sexist claims by Das cause racket in Olympia

Senator says it’s more of a inherent bias

Sen. Mona Das

Sen. Mona Das

State Sen. Mona Das claims a Kent Reporter article about racism in the Legislature mischaracterized her talk last week at a Kent Chamber of Commerce luncheon, but she’s glad it has opened a conversation about inherent bias.

Das, a Kent Democrat who just finished her first session in Olympia, posted on her Facebook page Wednesday that the Tuesday website article was a “mischaracterization of my remarks.” She posted comments that she sent to the Democratic caucus.

“While it makes good copy for a story, it neglects to include the context of my remarks,” Das said. “Like every institution, we have work to do on structural issues and implied bias in our work. I was not singling out the Senate for those issues or bias. I was merely stating that every institution faces those issues.

“Compared to many other institutions, our caucus understands that these issues are there and I’m excited to work with all of you to continue to address these challenges.”

Das described meetings that had racist and sexist remarks.

“After they close that door, that’s when it gets real,” Das said at the June 20 chamber legislative forum. “That’s when my 28 colleagues got real. And that’s when I heard hate, misogyny and racism and sexism from people you would not expect. That’s the type of light I want to shine. Now, when there are eight people of color in the Senate Democratic caucus, it was coded language – ‘those people.’ They would say things that were coded.”

Das not misquoted

The Associated Press reported on the Kent Reporter story and released its version Wednesday to media outlets across the nation with an Olympia dateline.

The news agency also noted in its story that “video of her comments posted on the chamber’s Facebook page shows she was not misquoted while talking about her experience as one of eight people of color in the Senate Democratic Caucus.”

Das told the Associated Press that, “No one has said anything overtly racist or sexist, but it’s what I hear underneath it all, the coded language.”

Das, who was born in India and moved to the United States as an infant, also told the Associated Press, “I don’t regret the conversation because now it has opened the conversation and is shining a light on inherent bias and making people think about their language.”

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, told the news agency that he’s had several conversations with Das since the article came out. Billig said a caucus retreat in October already had institutional racism as a topic.

“I believe that institutional racism does exist in state government and the Legislature and in many institutions in our society,” he said. “Conversations like this will help us get better as a Legislature and as a state.”

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