Anger in House as Republican uses ‘racist and repugnant’ term for Black Americans

A Republican representative from Arizona triggered an angry response in the House of Representatives after using the term “coloured people” to refer to Black Americans during a floor debate.

Eli Crane’s proposed amendment to an annual defence policy bill was met with a strong rebuke by the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus over his usage of the outdated phrase to refer to people of colour.

Joyce Beatty, the Democratic representative from Ohio, demanded the phrase be struck from the record through the unanimous consent of the House.

“My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not coloured people or Black people or anybody can serve. It has nothing to do with any of that stuff,” Mr Crane said during the debate on the GOP-backed amendments to the National Defence Authorisation Act.

“The military was never intended to be, you know, inclusive. Its strength is not its diversity. Its strength is its standards,” he said.

“I am going to tell you guys this right now you can: You can keep playing around these games with diversity, equity and inclusion. But there are some real threats out there. And if we keep messing around and we keep lowering our standards, it’s not going to be good,” said the 43-year-old Republican.

“I find it offensive and very inappropriate. I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words of referring to me or any of my colleagues as coloured people,” the 73-year-old Ms Beatty said soon after Mr Crane’s remarks.

At this point, Mr Crane interrupted and requested his statement be revised to use the phrase “people of colour” instead.

The words were eventually struck from the record through unanimous consent.

“In a heated floor debate on my amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the colour of one’s skin in the Armed Forces, I misspoke,” Mr Crane said in a statement. “Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal.”

On Thursday night, the House approved Mr Crane’s amendment with a vote of 214-210.

“This just happened on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. A House Republican just referred to Black Americans serving in our military as ‘colored people.’ In 2023,” tweeted representative Don Beyer.

“This is a shameful moment on the House floor,” tweeted the Black Caucus.

“Rep Eli Crane referring to Black service members who risk their lives for our country as ‘colored people’ is unconscionable. The GOP fights against diversity, equity and inclusion training and prove everyday why it’s necessary.”

Ms Beatty also took to social media after the debate to offer her response to the incident.

“I am still in utter shock and disbelief that a Republican uttered the words ‘colored people’ in reference to African-American service members who sacrifice their lives for our freedom,” she tweeted.

“I will not tolerate such racist and repugnant words in the House Chamber or anywhere in the Congress. That’s why I asked that those words be stricken from the record, which was done so by unanimous consent.”

Rep Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) criticised Mr Crane’s use of the term.

“Rep. Eli Crane just referred to Black service members as ‘colored people’,” she tweeted. “You can’t make this up. This is who these people are, and who they’ve always been.”

Rep Jim McGovern (D-MA) said that Mr Crane’s indicated a larger trend within the Republican Party.

“They’re bringing amendments to the floor to stop bases named after confederate traitors from getting new names,” he tweeted. “The GOP is not even hiding the racism anymore.”

Mr Crane won a term in Congress last year after redistricting made Arizona’s 2nd district more Republican. Prior to that he served in the US Navy SEALS. A member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, he was among a handful of House Republicans who opposed Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the speakership.

Republicans have continually opposed teaching Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, particularly in the US military. Many Republicans, including Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, have decried “wokeness” in US institutions like the US military.

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