Oklahoma Legislature Votes to Rebuke Colleague’s Racist Statements

Oklahoma Legislature Votes to Rebuke Colleague’s Racist Statements

Sally Kern’s fellow legislators voted overwhelmingly to condemn her statements that Blacks and women are lazy workers.

Published May 3, 2011

The Oklahoma state legislature has voted overwhelmingly to admonish a woman who last week said Blacks and women are lazier than white men, which is why they aren’t as successful as them. Sally Kern, a Republican state representative from Oklahoma City, made her controversial remarks during a debate about an affirmative action bill. Quoth Kern, “Is this just because they're Black that they're in prison, or could it be because they didn't want to work hard in school?” The 64-year-old then said, "I taught school for 20 years, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't want to work as hard—they wanted it given to them.”


Later in her rant, Kern said women make less than men because “women usually don't want to work as hard as a man.”


Naturally, Kern’s words started a firestorm, with citizens and her colleagues calling her a bigot. This prompted Kern to eat some humble pie and attempt to backpedal on her statements. The “apology”—if it can be called that—was pretty weak: “Unfortunately, when we take words or sentences out of the total context of a speech debated on the floor, there can be false misrepresentations,” she said on Saturday, “but the most important part is always go to the heart of the manner. … I never intended to convey anything more than all races include people who can be lazy at times.”


Apology or no, Kern’s colleagues still thought she was deserving of a punishment, and so they voted yesterday to give her a formal rebuke. By a vote of 76 to 16, the Oklahoma legislature voted to “reprimand” Kern, a mostly symbolic punishment that won’t force Kern to face any real consequences.

For such consequences, the hope is that when she’s up for reelection in a few years, Kern’s constituents will remember how ridiculous her beliefs really are.

(Photo: Oklahoma State Representative House)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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