Republican state senator needs to get up to date on what to call people.
He should have known better.
With his sociology degree, his work as a police officer and teacher in an ethnically diverse community, state Sen. Jim Honeyford should know how people want to be identified. Judging from his apology Thursday, he seems to have learned a lesson.
At a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing last week on racial disparity, Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said the poor commit most crime and that “colored” are most likely to be poor.
When someone from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance brought the use of the term “colored” to the attention of a Yakima TV station, a reporter called the senator. In the interview, Honeyford said the term did not apply just to “the Negro or the Hispanic.”
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Video of the hearing supports Honeyford’s explanation that he referred to “people of color” but later dropped the exonerating “people of.” Just plain “colored” justifiably offends many people who see it as a term meant to set them off as different, out of the mainstream.
Negro? The word upset some people when it appeared on the 2010 U.S. census form. The bureau justified that with research from the 1990s that found many older African Americans still identified themselves as such.
The Census Bureau director admitted research should have been updated before deciding to use the term, which was dropped in 2013.
Honeyford, 76, should get updated by listening closely to those in his district, which is 60 percent people of color.
In an apology released Thursday, Honeyford said that for years he has encouraged residents from diverse communities to become politically active.
“I regret anything that takes away from those efforts,” he said in an email.
He promised to represent his “entire community with increased sensitivity.”
Let’s hope so.