Texas state Rep. Betty Brown isn't racist, she just wants to improve the voter identification process, her spokesperson said yesterday.
Despite growing outrage over Brown's suggestion that Asian American voters adopt easier-to-pronounce names, the Republican lawmaker has not responded to demands for an apology.
Brown's spokesperson insisted that her comment was not racially motivated, but an attempt to reduce voter identification problems.
In the comment made during a House discussion Tuesday, Brown suggested that Asian American voters should adopt names that are "easier for Americans to deal with."
"Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese -- I understand it's a rather difficult language -- do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?" she asked Ramey Ko, a member of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), during a House discussion on voter identification legislation.
Brown pointed to voter identification problems involving differences in legal names and names printed on voters' driver's licenses.
The interview has drawn a firestorm of criticism this week, particularly among those in the Asian American community.
New York City Councilman John C. Liu wrote a letter to Brown yesterday demanding an apology. "It's outrageous and insulting for you to suggest it would 'behoove' us to adopt another name, to give up our birthright and a part of our own identity, in order to exercise our right to vote," he stated.
The National Association of Asian American Professionals and Organization of Chinese Americans were just a few organizations to publicly denounce Brown's comments.
"I think Rep. Brown owes an apology to the entire Asian-American community," Karen Nakasaki, president of the Asian American Justice Center told Fox news. "But more than that, she needs to show that she understands that that's an unacceptable solution. She probably thinks that President Obama should change his last name too."
The Texas Democratic Party has also demanded an apology from Brown.