GOP state Senator Steve Huffman posed an offensive question during a hearing aimed at deciding whether racism should be declared a public health crisis.
The Dayton Daily News reported that during the State Senate Health Committee hearing, the senator wondered why the black community is being disproportionately affected by the virus,
“My point is I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and it makes them more susceptible to death from COVID. But why it doesn’t make them more susceptible to just get COVID.
“Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups or wear a mask or do not socially distance themselves?
He has since been fired from his job as an ER doctor with TeamHealth following a wave of criticism.
The physician-led company released a statement on Thursday confirming Huffman’s termination as a result of his comments,
“Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace. TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment.”
Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse aid that Huffman’s language reflected the very systematic racism the hearing was trying to address,
“He highlights what racism is from a systematic perspectiv. He’s a full legislator but beyond that, professionally, he’s a doctor.”
She also noted that, in 2020, the word “colored” is almost universally considered to be offensive, citing its association with segregation and Jim Crow laws.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Huffman said his words were
“taken out of context.
“Anybody that comes into any emergency room, I give them the very best care regardless of what race they are.”
In his official apology, he said,
“Regrettably, I asked a question in an unintentionally awkward way that was perceived as hurtful and was exactly the opposite of what I meant. I was trying to focus on why COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate, since we really do not know all the reasons.”
The ACLU of Ohio called for Huffman’s removal on Twitter Thursday saying,
“there is no reality where he can remain a member of the Ohio General Assembly and make decisions that affect the very communities he undermines and clearly holds abhorrent attitudes about.”
The ACLU is urging people to pressure Ohio elected officials to denounce Huffman’s rhetoric.
Senator @SteveHuffmanOH made inexcusable, racist remarks against people of color and he must be held accountable. We are calling on him to step down from office. ❌🗣️ Join us in asking Ohio elected officials to do the same! ➡️ADD YOUR NAME: https://t.co/ZlFd9edhHF pic.twitter.com/aDUBvdD8yS— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) June 12, 2020
(Photo, YouTube; via Heavy)