'Buckwheat' comment may cost election

Dateline: Mon 12 Nov 2007

From today's Times-Picayune in New Orleans, with thanks to Nick Crews for picking up on it:

http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-35/1194893064218250.xml&storylist=lou

"HOUMA, La. -- A state representative in a runoff election infuriated civil rights leaders after she ended a conversation with the mother of the NAACP's local president by saying, 'Talk to you later, Buckwheat.'

"State Rep. Carla Blanchard Dartez, of Morgan City, acknowledged she made the remark during a Thursday night telephone conversation with Hazel Boykin to thank her for driving voters to the polls.

Buckwheat, the AP explains, was a black child character in the 'Little Rascals' comedies of the 1930s and '40s; Buckwheat "is viewed as a racial stereotype demeaning to black people."

Dartez is a Democrat. She is facing a Republican in a November 17 runoff.

It looks like she won't win. Hazel Boykin, on the receiving end of the racial insult, is a 75-year-old retiree and a "well-known as a 1960s civil rights activist, helping to desegregate restaurants and the parish school system," reports the New Orleans paper. Her son Jerome is the NAACP's president in Terrebonne Parish.

" 'I've never had no one talk to me that way and I considered it a racial slur," said Hazel Boykin. "I know the meaning of it, it's just like the N word.'"

Deja vu for those of us who have followed the case of RiShawn Biddle, who used the words "zip coon" to describe a fellow black. As far as I can tell, Dartez is white. The point is: racial slurs aren't tolerated, period.

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