In a meeting of the state’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force Wednesday, Colorado State Sen. Vicki Marble (R) delivered a long monologue suggesting that the reason for poverty among certain minority groups was that they eat too much chicken and barbecue.
Discussing statistics about racial disparities in the poverty rate, KVDR Denver reports, Marble claimed that the studies ignored drug addiction and poor diets common among Latino- and African-American families.
MARBLE: When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race: sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it… Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you — I mean love it and everybody loves it. The Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables. And you go down there and they’re much thinner than when they come up here… they change their diet.
A July study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that obesity rates are actually higher in Mexico than in the United States.
Another task force member, Rep. Rhonda Fields (D) responded, saying, “The title for this committee is Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction; and one of the things I will not tolerate is racist and insensitive comments about African Americans, the color of their skin. What you mentioned that we eat — I was highly offended by your remarks.” She added that she would not “engage in a dialogue where I’m in the company, where you are using these stereotyped references about African American and chicken and food… this is not what this committee is all about… it’s not about chicken.”
The chairman then adjourned the meeting so the task force’s members could “all take a deep breath.”
In a statement Wednesday night, Marble said, “My comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community… I am saddened they were taken in that regard. I take my responsibility seriously and I hope our work on this committee will offer real solutions to the health and financial challenges of our vulnerable populations.”