Posted on December 10, 2018

An Arizona School District Banned a State Representative from Its Campuses After He Said that African Americans ‘Don’t Blend In’

Antonia Noori Farzan, Washington Post, December 7, 2018


State Rep. David Stringer (R) has been facing calls to resign since last Friday, when the Phoenix New Times published an audio recording of him talking with a group of Arizona State University students who had approached him after a lecture. The Republican lawmaker had commented that “diversity in our country is relatively new,” prompting one student to remind him about early waves of immigration from Italy and Ireland.

“They were all European,” Stringer countered. “So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. But that’s not the case with African Americans and other racial groups because they don’t melt in. They don’t blend in. They always look different.”

Later, when a student pointed out that Polish immigrants had faced discrimination when they first arrived in the United States, Stringer replied: “The difference between the Polish-American immigrant and the immigrant from Somalia is the second-generation Polish immigrant looks like the Irish kid and the German kid and every other kid. But the immigrant from Somalia does not.”

Those comments didn’t sit well with the Humboldt Unified School District, which serves about 5,700 students in rural, conservative Yavapai County. According to the Daily Courier, superintendent Dan Streeter sent a letter to parents, faculty and administrators saying that Stringer would no longer be welcome at any of the district’s 10 campuses, and had been barred from attending school-related forums and other events.


{snip} “I believe that everything I’ve said — if you look at what I actually said — is defensible, that it is truthful, that it is factually accurate, that it can be supported by academic research,” he said.


Stringer, who worked as an attorney in the Washington, D.C., area before relocating to Arizona and was first elected to the state legislature in 2016, has repeatedly lamented America’s changing demographics. Speaking at a public forum as a candidate in 2016, he said, “I think immigration is a huge problem, it is destroying our country, it is tearing us apart, it will inevitably — if we don’t do something about it — result in some kind of civil disorder and a dissolution of the United States as we know it.” The following year, he published an opinion column in the Prescott eNews, an online publication whose parent company he co-owns, which concluded: “The United States may be the first nation in history to voluntarily surrender its traditional culture and national identity to other peoples. We are only beginning to experience the consequences.”

In June, the Republican lawmaker made national headlines when he described immigration as an “existential threat to the United States.” Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Lines demanded his resignation, as did Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who said that Stringer had “basically disqualified himself to lead at the state level.” Stringer ignored their calls to step down and instead doubled down on his remarks in an interview with Capitol Media Services, where he said that Asian Americans “still have a sense of maybe not fully participating in American life” and African Americans “have not been fully assimilated into American culture.’’

This week, Ducey and Lines once again renewed their requests for Stringer’s resignation and were joined by other prominent Republican leaders. Meanwhile, a local branch of the NAACP threatened to boycott the city of Prescott, where the lawmaker lives.


But Prescott — a city of roughly 40,000 people that elected President Trump by a 14-point margin and is known for its annual Christmas parade — has also repudiated Stringer. {snip}