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Democrat Legislator Under Fire After Calling Asian-American Opponent 'Ching-Chong'

A state senator in Michigan's legislature is under fire over allegations she used racial slurs to attack her primary election rival in front of voters. 

Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit), who is black, used deeply offensive anti-Asian slurs in describing her opponent Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) in a now viral story. 

On Thursday the Detroit Metro Times published a full report, outlining the allegations:

Scott is alleged to have referred to Chang as "ching-chang" and "the ching-chong" to multiple voters outside polling precincts during last Tuesday's election. She's also said to have called one of Chang's campaign volunteers an “immigrant,” saying “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country.” 

Chang and Scott were running in the Democratic primary for state Sen. District 1. Chang won the election with 49 percent of the vote; Scott came in third with 11 percent of the vote. 

State Rep. Stephanie Chang and Rep. Bettie Cook Scott.

Since the series of incidents first surfaced Rep. Scott has been called upon by over a dozen local community groups to issue a formal apology.

National organizations have also weighed in, including the Association of Chinese Americans and the African Bureau of Immigration & Social Affairs, all demanding an explanation from Scott.  

It's also possible that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan could be roped into the controversy, as the powerful city leader has provided a key high level endorsement for Scott in her bid to enter the state senate

Stephanie Change told the Metro Times, "These comments are offensive to all Asian-Americans," and added that, "It isn't about me. It's about an elected official disrespecting entire populations, whether they be Asian-American, immigrant, or residents of Sen. District 1 or [Cook's] own current house district." 

A number of Asian and Pacific-islander interest groups have rallied in support of Chang amidst the allegations, citing that racism against Asian-Americans is deeply under reported and rarely spotlighted in national media

The report cites multiple witnesses who heard the offensive slurs that included "ching-chang" and "the ching-chong" when Scott showed up outside polling stations:

The various off-color remarks were heard by multiple people connected with Chang, including Chang's husband, who spoke with Metro Times. Sean Gray says after overhearing Cook disparaging Chang outside a precinct on the east side of Detroit, "I ... asked her not to speak about my wife in that manner. At that time she said to the voter that 'these immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.' Further, she said it 'disgusts her seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.'" 

Gray, who is black, says Scott then went on to call him a "fool" for marrying Chang.

And in a separate incident at another precinct, Scott allegedly told a voter"Thanks for voting for me, you don't need to vote for that ching-chang." 

One African-American voting activist and eyewitness who initially reported some of the comments to Detroit reporters commented:

"As an African-American woman, I've been called the N-word before in my life and you never forget it," says Long. "Each time it's shocking and appalling and disgusting, so when you hear someone that's a minority and a woman using slurs against another minority that's a woman, it's just mind boggling and it just felt dirty." 

As the story quickly went national through Thursday evening, there's been a growing chorus of voices calling for an acknowledgement and investigation into Scott's comments. 

Amidst the avalanche of criticism, Rep. Scott finally issued a belated apology late Thursday, saying “Those are not the kinds of comments that should be made nor are they the kind of comments I would normally make,” she said in a statement issued through her lawyer.

She further admitted the validity of the allegations against her in the following: “I humbly apologize to Rep. Chang and to her husband, Mr. Gray, and to the broader Asian American community," she said. 

Considering it's a Democrat under fire for making racially offensive remarks, we can't help but wonder if it'll be spotlighted by the major networks.