WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- State Sen. Stephen Huffman (R-Ohio) faced backlash after asking if the high coronavirus incidence among “the colored population” is because they “do not wash their hands as well as other groups.”
- Huffman raised the controversial question before the state Senate Health Committee during a discussion that focused on whether racism was a public health crisis.
- Several lawmakers accused Huffman of racism and suggesting that African Americans are dirty.
State Sen. Stephen Huffman (R-Ohio) is now under fire after asking a Black health expert if the high coronavirus incidence among “the colored population” is because they “do not wash their hands as well.”
Huffman, who is also a doctor, raised the controversial question with Angela Dawson, the director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, before the state Senate Health Committee on Tuesday.
Ironically, the discussion was focused on whether racism was a public health crisis.
Huffman asked what could explain the incidence disparities: “Could it just be that African Americans — the colored population — do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear masks? Or do not socially distance themselves?”
Dawson responded with a hard tone: “That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country.”
The president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. Stephanie Howse, accused Huffman of suggesting that African Americans are dirty.
Howse remarked, “He highlights what racism is from a systematic perspective,” especially coming from a “full legislator” who is also a doctor.
She asked, “Do you think that someone who acknowledges the ‘coloreds’ is going to give the love and care that people need when they come through those doors?”
State Sen. Cecil Thomas (D) recalled how the audience had cringed upon hearing his colleague’s question.
“He’s an example of why we have to have this discussion about racism and how it impacts people,” Thomas pointed out.
Huffman has since issued a somewhat apologetic statement that said he had made a poor choice of words but did not intend any malice.
“Regrettably, I asked a question in an unintentionally awkward way that was perceived as hurtful and was exactly the opposite of what I meant. I was trying to focus on why COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate since we really do not know all the reasons,” Huffman insisted.
Source: New York Post