April 10, 2009 – Texas State Representative, Betty Brown, who represents Kaufman and Henderson Counties, commented to a Chinese-American lawyer during a State Elections Committee hearing that if Asian Americans can’t get accurate IDs due to their Asian names, they should “adopt a name just for identification purposes that was easier for Americans to deal with.”
According to news reports, Representative Brown’s comments were made in the context of debates on a pending Voter ID bill in Texas that have split along party lines. Democrats oppose the bill on the grounds that it may discourage and disenfranchise low income and minority voters.
“While our organization does not exist to take partisan stands on pending legislation in any state, we are nevertheless compelled to repudiate Representative Brown’s comments,” said Nita Song, president of the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF).” As an elected official in Texas – the state that contains the third largest state concentration of Asian Americans in the country – Representative Brown’s comments demonstrate a bewildering ignorance of, and insensitivity towards, the immigrant heritage of our country, and the important contributions that Asian Americans have made – and continue to make – to the social, business, and cultural life of Texas.”
Representative Brown’s comments have produced an outpouring of condemnation across the United States from Asian American and non-Asian community leaders and elected officials. In New York, City Councilman John Liu has called on Representative Brown to either issue a formal apology or resign immediately.