The following is a statement from Prasanna Vengadam, American Citizens for Justice; Jerilyn Church, American Indian Health and Family Services; Nadia Tonova, ACCESS; Stephanie Gray Chang, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan; Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Branch NAACP; Lawrence Garcia, Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan; and Sook Wilkinson, Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission; and Rev. Charles Williams, National Action Network:
Leaders representing Michigan’s leading civil rights organizations today reiterate the call on former Congressman Pete Hoekstra to immediately drop a television ad inaccurately caricaturing Asians and to take down the “Debbiespenditnow” website, which was first aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl game.
In addition, American Citizens for Justice, American Indian Health and Family Services, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan, Detroit Branch NAACP, Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, and National Action Network urge all candidates for office to refrain from exploiting people’s fears by using racial and ethnic stereotypes in their public communications.
At every level of American society, African Americans, Arab Americans, Asian/Pacific Islander Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans and Native American/American Indians contribute to our nation’s culture and economy. These communities are also voting in record numbers and are engaging in democracy and elections in many ways and at all levels. Many of our organizations already have plans underway to register and mobilize underrepresented voters to the polls on Election Day, November 6, 2012.
Simple common decency and respect suggests that all candidates who aspire to represent citizens as elected officials refrain from remarks that, intentional or not, are offensive. The use of language and visual images that unfairly and inaccurately stereotype people by race and ethnicity is unacceptable in our politics and our lives, particularly when used by candidates who are supposed to represent the best that America has to offer. Democrats, Republicans, third party candidates and independents all must recognize the important contributions that communities of color make to Michigan’s economy. The use of stereotypical imagery or language is not just offensive – it is indeed unacceptable.