Loose Lips

Read: Barry’s Not-Really-An-Apology

Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry is having a hard time saying sorry. A statement from his office:

My earlier comments regarding the Asian American Business Community have been painted with a brush that was too narrow. They should be taken in the context of my long-standing history of good, positive relations with the Asian American Community in this town. I do not have, nor have I ever had a history of discrimination against anyone, including the Asian American Community.

People should remember that I created the first Office of Asian American Affairs in this City and continue to work very closely with the Asian Community in Chinatown, as well as the Asian Business Community in Ward 8. Many of the Asian American businesses that exist in Chinatown are there because of my strong support.

I am sorry that my choice of words in expressing my discontent with some of the Asian business owners in my Ward offended the Asian American Community and I am deeply apologetic for any harm that I have caused.

It is a fact, however, that there are a number of the Asian owned, neighborhood stores and carry-outs in Ward 8 that only sell highly caloric food and, that unlike some other Asian businessman in Ward 8, don’t reach-out to neighborhood groups, make financial contributions to the neighborhood or, help young people in the neighborhood improve their quality of life.

Ward 8 residents are spending their hard earned dollars in these stores because they are the only stores in the immediate neighborhoods; my constituents want respect, too.

It is to these less than stellar Asian American businessmen in Ward 8 that my remarks were directed, not the whole of Asian businessmen in Ward 8 or, the Asian American population.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Capital Break

    Barry is wild for going on the Asian American community with those exact comments but I can understand the frustration of community businesses not giving back or helping contribute to a better Ward 8.

    "It is a fact, however, that there are a number of the Asian owned, neighborhood stores and carry-outs in Ward 8 that only sell highly caloric food and, that unlike some other Asian businessman in Ward 8, don’t reach-out to neighborhood groups, make financial contributions to the neighborhood or, help young people in the neighborhood improve their quality of life."

    He probably would have been better off saying this than the original statement. And this quote above is actually true.

  • Ward 5 Rez

    This is America. A business has to follow the city codes and pay taxes - while it may be "disrespectful", no one has to contribute or participate in their community. If you don't like a business, don't patronize that business and let nature takes its course.

  • Yep

    If you've ever witnessed the way asian take-out owners are treated by their customers, you'd understand why they wouldn't want to give back to the "community."

  • lovessoldier

    Well, I can't say that I blame him for going off. No offense to the business owners, but why profit off of people that you don't want personal contact with or are too afraid to deal with on a personal level? Why sell them foods for 3x's higher in the spirit of convenience, yet don't offer healthy alternatives? Prior to Giant coming back to SE these stores where the only stores for the elderly & disenfranchised to shop. They are not monitored/controlled/regulated like stores in NW. They are dirty, sell hot food under deplorable conditions and accept food stamp cards. I am a former Ward 8 resident and Barry I approve some of your message. Maybe you should use your power to make them at least up to code. So many of those shops have missing floor & ceiling tiles and the floors (I won't even). Just don't look down when you are making a purchase!!!! I won't even get started on the beauty supply stores. City Paper you should investigate it instead of further agitating him.

  • http://www.anthonylorenzo.com Anthony Lorenzo

    @Yep: Maybe they can start by taking down the plexiglass. That alone tells me they dont want my business but have no other choice because thats all we have in our area.

    I agree with Capital Break. The comments were insensitive in lumping a whole race into a big problem in Ward 8. The fact still remains, just as Barry stated, there are a large number of neighborhood stores and carryouts that are in poor condition, selling poor food and products. This is a major issue in many black communities across america.

    Anthony Lorenzo
    Ward 8 resident

  • George52

    Marion Barry is RIGHT! Some of these Asian carry-outs serve really crappy food that is an insult to their customers. They do not treat their customers with respect, and serve this crappy food from behind plexiglass. There has been a complete breakdown in communication, and if Barry's comments help to get a real dialogue started between the owners of these establishments and the people that are served by them, that is a good thing. Let's stop hiding behind race here - it's true, they are Asian carry-outs, and they serve crappy food to black folks. I think he's really on to something - are we going to be mature enough as a community to deal with the truth of what he is saying, or retreat to our corners behind a facade of political correctness? p.s., I am, technically speaking, an Asian American, so please, spare me.

  • lioneagle

    @Non Liberal Democrat -

    Your wishful thinking won't move Barry back to Mississippi. How much do you think Barry cares about your sentiments relative to him?

    Your disrespectful language indicates that you fit the definition of ignorant, however old you are.

  • SW

    "It is a fact, however, that there are a number of the Asian owned, neighborhood stores and carry-outs in Ward 8 that only sell highly caloric food and, that unlike some other Asian businessman in Ward 8, don’t reach-out to neighborhood groups, make financial contributions to the neighborhood or, help young people in the neighborhood improve their quality of life."

    If all of the Asian business owners turned black tomorrow, this comment would STILL be true. The economic incentives are the same no matter what color you are.

    (And I'm going to be petty here but, really, Barry? All black-owned businesses serve healthy, low-calorie food, are clean as a whistle, don't have plexiglass windows and are socially and environmentally responsible?)

    Not everyone will engage with the community, because not everyone cares -- and they're not required to care. If businesses violate health codes, fine them or shut them down, but don't be racist about it.

  • CG

    Hey Barry- stop bitching and make your ward more attractive to investment. If that occurs, the situation will take care of itself and the Chinese take outs will be replaced with something better. But right now NO African Americans want to invest in Ward 8 for obvious reasons. Marion Barry seems to lack a basic understanding of capitalism.

  • noodlez Uncle

    @lioneagle; I don't see a comment by Non Liberal Democrat. Is the Washington City Paper now moving comments and is enforce censorship? What happen to free speech Washington City Paper? Marion Barry is a racist and blacks too can be racist. Barry is an old fool and he should retire. The man is senile.

  • Java Master

    Barry does it again! And the stupid voters of Ward 8, who keep returning this clown to office, again demonstrate why no one in the rest of DC respects their political choices. It is easy to ignore Ward 8 voters-- they don't seem to care that Barry is ineffective and racist. His public and private behavior is an affront to the citizenry, but his cronies in Ward 8 don't care--because they are accustomed to having their hands on the taxpayers wallet!

  • Race Matters

    I agree, there now seems to be censhorship on the Washington City Paper blog? What happen to free speech?

  • Jes sayin’

    New Hampshire didn't work out too well in the Statehood effort. And I guess after this kerfuffle, you can forget about Hawaii, where Asian-Pacific Americans are the majority. And I have a feeling that House Republicans will somehow get involved in this to rub Barry's nose in it and remind everyone that DC requires federal funds to operate and that beggars can't be racists.

    On the other side of the aisle, the Hawaii and California Democratic Congressional delegations could do DC a big favor by forcing Ward 8's ODB off the stage once and for all. Simply by saying Barry has a right to say whatever he wants, but they have the responsibility to appropriate funds, and either Barry goes or their support for DC federal funds goes away. Danny Inouye and Danny Akaka have the power to make it happen.

    Beggars can't be racists, Marion. It's time to go.

  • NE John

    Unfortunate that he is losing control, but no matter what, Barry will be an historic figure in DC.

  • Terry in Silver Spring

    " I do not have, nor have I ever had a history of discrimination against anyone"

    Except, of course, against that bitch who set him up.

  • Weiwen

    The problems that Mr. Barry highlighted in this so-called apology should be addressed through the health code. They should not be addressed by a racialized insult.

  • Lover Girl

    The media is just angry and besides themselves that Marion Barry BEAT the system once again. Despite the fact that almost every paper in the city endorsed someone else, he STILL crushed his competition. It was embarassing to them that despite their efforts, he still won. No matter what they try to do, they can't hold Barry down and they won't hold him down with this one either.

  • Ward5Dude

    Marion Barry = the black Don Imus


    As a Ward 8 resident, I agree with some parts of Barry's message. The carry-outs and stores on MLK Ave. are pretty dirty and certainly leave a lot to be desired. However, as usual, Barry missed an opportunity to dialog with Ward 8 about a much larger issue. That being: We can't ask the carry-outs and stores to improve if we aren't willing to hold ourselves to the same standard we ask of others. I see trash thrown up and down MLK Ave. and often wonder how I can ask someone to come into the community and invest based on what they see. There are a lot of good hardworking people in Ward 8 but we gotta do better if want better.

  • Georgetown Lady

    WoW talk about being arrogant after an election victory. Although Barry's statements have some truth, you can't say it like that!

  • Ward-8

    Barry open mouth insert foot again, all of those SE Barry lovers here is pie in your face again ,dispite being warned and told that Barry need to retire, the die hard blind Barry worshipers put this clown back in office. Common sense would dictate to anyone who is not outright stupid, If all of the Asian Stores were not being supported and patronized by the people in Ward -8 they wouldn't be able to stay in business,this don't take a Rocket Scientist to figure out, they get robbed just like any black own business who either sell the wrong products and or don't get the support like the Asian business do because the Asian Business see what is needed and fill the void, I personally admire their preserverance.Yes Ward-8 Barry worshipers four more years of this has been clown and no one to blame but your self!!

  • http://Www.glaaforum.org Rick Rosendall

    Clashes between Asian shop owners and black urban communities have been going on for decades; see South Central LA, 1992, and Rev. Willie Wilson here in DC. With so much civil rights experience, Marion should know how to talk about it constructively by now. But he also has a long history of exploiting racial division to fire up his base. He behaved in a similar manner on marriage equality three years ago--he led an anti-gay chant at a rally on Freedom Plaza and voted against the legislation, then reminded us of his support on other gay issues. Word was that he had to go with the anti-gay ministers because they had given him financial help. My favorite part of that rally was when he declared that he was a moral leader.

  • Anna Costia

    Stop calling the residents of Ward 8 idiots. Many of Barry's antics are financed by business people (developers) from the NORTHWEST quadrant of the city. In addition, there was low voter turnout, only 14% of the Ward's registered voteres participated and 27% of those who did vote, did not vote for CM Barry. Don't count that as Overwhelming support for the Councilmember. Count that as a lack of options.

    Also, if you would come to Ward 8, you would note that the selection of shopping is very poor. Many of us who live there with options shop outside of Ward 8 (DC even). Unfortunately, many of our neighbors do not have that option. I agree with most commenters, that he could have made a valid point about the overpriced, low quality selections without referring to the race of the store owners.

  • Race Matters

    D.C. will never get Statehood, thanks to Marion Barry. A majority white Congress will never support Statehood, as long as Marion Barry a former crack user, non tax payer, womanizer, and alcoholic is in office.

  • Race Matters

    Oops, I forgot to add black racist to the list.

  • Jake

    "No matter what they try to do, they can't hold Barry down and they won't hold him down with this one either."

    Maybe they won't hold Barry down, but our "municipal Mobutu" continues to hold his ward down. He also holds our city down, despite the fact that his erratic and clownish behavior has marginalized him. Anyone who thinks that DC statehood -- or even full voting rights -- will go anywhere while Barry is still within 50 miles of the Wilson Building is ... smoking the same stuff Barry uses.

  • SEis4ME

    Jake, you're an idiot. Anyone who thinks that Barry is the reason DC won't get statehood is a fool.

    DC's statehood (or lack thereof) has absolutely nothing to do w/Barry. Never has...never will.

  • cutthecrap

    Ward 8...stop patronizing these businesses and giving them your money. The way to close the businesses down is by good old fashion boycotting. Sometime you have to use covert as well as overt tactics. WAKE UP WARD!!!

  • Whatever

    Marion is the biggest racists of all. Period.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    I did not vote for Marion Barry this term and previous terms as well. However, his statements about the Asian store owners needing to fix up their stores I agree with.

    Most of them in Ward 8 appear to be small business owners and may need city funds to help clean up, renovate, rehab their stores. They should be a forced to do this with city help and whatever it takes to do this.

    Mind you this does not just apply to Asian store owners but to all businesses that come into Ward 8.

    We Ward 8 residents want clean, brightly lighted and sanitary conditions to eat in and order our food in.

    No more dirty windows, dirty floors, dirty kitchens and any other dirty stuff.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    To: Ward 8

    The fact that dirty stores flourished in Ward 8 is not because we like them but they are easily accessible. That is the way a neighborhood, community is supposed to be set up. Everyone do not have a car. I sometimes get in my car and drive to the suburbs to shop to get some grass, cleanliness and light and less ill-mannered behavior. Everyone do not have that.

    This is why it is important that some standards beyond passing low level health standards is required. Go to Barracks Row on Capitol Hill and Harris Teeter and so the difference,Just a short walk or short ride across Eleven Street Bridge or Sousa Bridge. A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    To: Terry in Silver Spring, the Bitch did not set him up,She did not hold a gun on him. Yo!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    Because of the change in demographics, education and higher priced homes, I was hoping that the new residents of Ward 8 would outnumber the hypnotized Barry zombies would be outnumbered. Alas, this did not happen this time.

    Does the DC City Council have a mandatory retirement age?

    Please respond...

  • KeepinItReal

    Was there a shred of truth to what Barry said? I don't live in Ward 8 so I wouldn't know. However, there are some asian owned cornor stores, liquor stores and take out joints in Wards 6 and 5 that you couldn't pay me to patronize.