Page Title
Editor's corner/ Over a cup of tea
Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the
State of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)

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Thoughts on racism among us
Madison Times, the local newspaper that highlighted African American achievements as well as problems, commentaries and interviews about
issues in the Black community. Through my work with Betty, I was introduced to the Black community in Madison, particularly the other civil rights
leaders and workers who were friends and co-workers of Betty, then the Madison NAACP president and CEO of the local Urban League. Betty was
the exact opposite of Rep. Scott! Betty, to me, was the true epitome of a civil rights person that believes in equality for ALL and works hard to achieve
it; and the eradication of racism, bigotry and hatred in our society.

My fortune at working for and with Betty was short-lived, however. Betty passed away only three months after I began my work at her newspaper. But
she had planted the seed in my heart to continue part of her work, which I did for another six-plus years. My list of close friends include many African
Americans, because by then I was thoroughly immersed in Betty’s work, her “world,” and her goals.

Not all Blacks I met in Madison were like Betty, though, in terms of how they treated an Asian American working in a Black newspaper. I won’t get into
details; suffice it to say that yes, I was also mistreated by a few of them who probably felt I should go back to my country for reasons that are self-
explanatory. [Why was I too hardworking and knowledgeable in what I did?] And probably they are happy now, because Madison has one less Asian
American in its populace.
I was appalled, taken aback, and engulfed with sadness, upon reading a very recent Newsweek article (by
Shane Croucher) about a Black Detroit Democrat calling her Asian-American Primary rival “Ching Chong” and
telling her campaign volunteer, “immigrant,” “you don’t belong here,” and “I want you out of my country.”
Michigan State Rep. Bettie Cook Scott made these remarks on August 7, according to the story, as she told
voters “Vote for me. Don’t vote for the ching-chong!”  

Scott and Rep. Stephanie Chang both sit in the Michigan House of Representatives, and they competed in a
Democratic primary for a Michigan state Senate candidacy. Chang won 49% of the vote, while Scott got 11%.
While Scott has since apologized for her racial slurs after massive expression of outrage from various
community groups and the Michigan Democratic Party, the incident has actually made me think deeper than I
usually do when I talk about racism. I want to think that Scott’s feeling against Asian Americans is an isolated
one. Or is it?

I had to go back to my experiences as an Asian American in Madison, Wisconsin, in regard to my relationships
with African Americans and Blacks in general. I came to Madison as an immigrant in 1998, hoping to create a
new career path for me after working in the Philippine government for more than 25 years. Looking for work for
a not-so-young immigrant, though highly educated and experienced, was tough. But it was a Black lady leader,
Betty Franklin, who gave me that first opportunity! Betty offered me my first ever job as her assistant editor in the
In the bigger scheme of things though, the for-me outweighs the
against-me folks in Madison, Wisconsin. After leaving Betty’s paper, I
started my own Asian-American magazine, Asian Wisconzine, which
is still alive after 13 years. Although exclusively online since 2010, it
still gets readership not only from Wisconsin but from other states
and a few from other countries, as well. For several years now, my
magazine caters to issues common to people of color: immigration,
health care, education, race and ethnicity, women, foreign relations,
and government. I have to thank Betty and her predecessor, Jonathan
Gramling (now editor & publisher of The Capital City Hues), for
igniting my interest and passion for issues affecting all communities
of color.

Going back to the unfortunate incident in Michigan regarding State
Rep. Scott and her racial slurs, I must stress that she was just being
herself, a racist Black woman. No amount of apology can ever change
what’s inside her heart. Her expression of “Sorry” was simply a plastic
cover that reveals nothing but a woman hungry for political power, who’
ll do whatever it takes to get it. The result, however, was a slap to her
face. What an undignified politician! If Betty were alive, I am pretty sure
she won’t shut her mouth and criticize Scott’s remarks and behaviour
toward Asians in America.

At a time when people of color need to be united and create that
unified strength to fight injustice and inequality, we do not need the
likes of Rep. Scott. The Democratic Party has to decide on whether or
not they want someone like Scott to represent the party’s values.