Content warning: Racist and sexist slurs
In late June, Delaware State Representative Gerald Brady (D) sparked backlash after an email he wrote was published by Delaware Online / The News Journal. In the email (which Brady sent from his official government email address to the email sender rather than to its intended recipient), Brady criticized efforts to protect sex workers using racist and sexist slurs referring to Asian women.
The email sender had forwarded to Brady a Princeton study that had found that decriminalization of sex work in New York City had led to a reduction in sex crimes, and had called on Brady to support efforts to decriminalize sex work in Delaware. Neither the original email nor the attached study made any mention of Asian or Asian American women.
In his June 27 email response, Brady wrote (censorship added):
Is the dude basically saying, if we provide free Blowjobs for Uncle Pervie there will be few rapes and ch*nk bro*ds will be shipped in CONEX containers to the Port of Wilmington??
These comments are heinous on their face, but are even more disturbing in the wake of recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Indianapolis that appear to have targeted the Asian American community, and Asian American women in particular. The Atlanta mass shooting, in particular, appears to have been directly motivated by racism and misogyny against Asian American women drawn from racialized sex worker stereotypes. In the aftermath of that violence, many in the Asian American community (myself included) discussed the dangerous influence of such racist and sexist stereotypes on Asian American women, historically and contemporarily; yet, Brady appears to have completely missed (or utterly ignored) that national conversation on race and gender.
Facing widespread community backlash against Brady’s email comments —including from Delaware’s Asian American community which called for his immediate resignation, as well as from the Delaware State Republican Party — Brady issued a brief apology in July. Brady’s statement read in part:
There is no excuse I can offer that explains my embarrassing and shameful words that insulted, stereotyped and dehumanized an entire culture while making light of a serious human rights crisis.
Despite his contrite statement, Brady did not immediately resign his office. Instead, he merely announced he would not seek re-election next year, which allows him to finish out his current term in office despite holding clearly racist and sexist views. This despite the fact that Brady represents a multiracial district, and whose voters include 5% that identify as Asian American.
Adding further insult to injury, the Delaware State Democratic Party has offered only lip service criticism of Brady. Their only sanction of him for his comments: sensitivity training. They did not call for him to resign. This silence is complicity.
Delaware’s Asian American community are unsatisfied with this outcome, and have organized a petition calling for Brady’s immediate resignation.
“As a Delawarean and an American, I am absolutely disgusted by the recent racist remarks of Representative Gerald Brady. Not only did Brady use a degrading and dehumanizing term to refer to someone’s ethnicity, but it is clear from his email that he also believes that people who participate in sex work do not deserve rights and protection,” writes the petition‘s author.
“A local representative cannot properly represent constituents which he demeans, and as Delawareans and Americans, we should… find that unacceptable.”