An Illinois Democratic state legislator apologized — but later backtracked and said she was quoted out of context — after seemingly referring to black Republican state legislator John Anthony as a “half” in a derogatory manner.
Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia was discussing charter school reform on the state House floor when she noted that most of the racial minorities in the room were on the Democratic side.
“Listen to me minorities, I’m over here because we’re all over on this side, right?” she said, according to the Illinois Mirror.
After Republicans objected, she then added, “wait, we have a half.” A logical interpretation of her remark is that when she said, “wait, we have a half,” she was conceding the existence of black Republican John Anthony, media outlets reported.
She soon apologized, and said that did not mean to offend anyone.
But later, she claimed that her remarks were taken out of context.
“The comments were taken out of context,” she said in a statement to The Beacon-News. “It’s extremely frustrating.”
She explained that she was asking Republicans to let her talk to the Democratic “half” of the room.
But the Illinois Mirror’s Eric Kohn wrote that the remarks were definitely not taken out of context:
Even putting the “we have a half” remark aside, her suggestion that Republicans are incapable of caring about the outcomes for minorities is putrid and demagogic. Rep. Chapa LaVia should be ashamed of herself. For what she said. For the disingenuous apology. And for the preposterous explanation she offered her hometown newspaper after the fact.
Kohn wondered what the reaction would have been like if a Republican lawmaker had called a certain bi-racial former Illinois legislator — President Barack Obama — a “half.”
Chapa LaVia did not immediately answer a request for clarification. This story will be updated with her comments if she responds.