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LOS ANGELES - Former Washington DC Mayor and now councilman Marion Barry asked for a formal meeting with Philippine Ambassador to the US, Jose Cuisia Jr. on Wednesday, to resolve the growing controversy regarding remarks made by Barry about Filipino nurses and teachers, the Washington Post reported.
According to the Washington Post, Barry sought a meeting with Cuisia to bolster ties with his district and the Philippines.
“I reached out and had good conversations,” Barry said to the Washington Post. “This is about improving human relations. There are still cultural gaps between various groups in this country and we have a responsibility to understand and close them.”
It is unknown when or if such a meeting will take place, the Post reported.
Earlier this week, Cuisia, along with several Asian American leaders and groups, demanded that Barry apologize for his insensitive and negative flippant remarks against Filipino nurses.
Barry insinuated that Filipino nurses and teachers are taking away jobs from Americans.
“In fact, it’s so bad, that if you go to the hospital now, you find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” said Barry. “And no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses - and so that we don’t have to be scrounging around in our community clinics and other kinds of places - having to hire people from somewhere else.”
Cuisia issued a statement through the Philippine Embassy website calling Barry’s remarks “deplorable.”
“Filipino nurses are known to be competent, hardworking, caring, and [they] possess good work ethic. These are some of the reasons why most patients prefer and trust them. Like many good citizens, they pay their taxes and contribute to the American economy,” Cuisia said.
“Councilmember Barry’s penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination, and violence. Such rhetoric does nothing but harm relations among community members, when the times call for developing relationships and finding solutions to common challenges. He owes Filipino nurses an apology for his recent tirade,” he added.
Barry’s negative comments against Filipino nurses came almost three weeks after he made a similar prejudiced observation that Asian-owned businesses were “dirty shops.”
Barry apologized for those remarks after much political and public pressure, but has yet to apologize about his recent statement against Filipino nurses.
Instead, he blamed the media for taking his quotes out of context, the Post reported.
“The media has a way of distorting things. They’re in the business of sensationalism,” Barry said at a council meeting on Thursday.