Rep. Berry asks the question: Why?

If you've been following The Blog, you've no doubt read stories about State Senator Jack Hatch's remarks last week during a conversation in the Iowa House with a black legislator.  Hatch, who is white, used the "n" word.  On Monday, Hatch issued a public apology.  That apology, however, seemed to spark outrage from folks in Iowa's African American community. NAACP leaders from Iowa and Des Moines held a news conference this morning (Tuesday).  Two black legislators who, like Hatch, are Democrats from Des Moines, spoke at that news conference.

Representative Deborah L. Berry, a Democrat from Waterloo who is one of Iowa's African American legislators, was not part of that news conference, but she sent an email to Democrats in the Iowa House and Senate to express her thoughts on the matter.  Read nearly all of her email below. However, when the "n" word was referenced by Berry, I have replaced it with the phrase "the 'n' word" and I have corrected three grammatical errors. I have omitted one incomplete sentence from Berry's email as well.  The rest, with those edits, is below.

To: Democratic Representatives; Democratic Senators
Subject: Disturbing Article

I read the Des Moines Register article regarding the “apology." Sad to say, I am even more “offended” by the contents of that article.  Namely, the section that says, “he understands lawmakers have been under intense pressure as they try to wrap up this session,” and Jacobs consulting Dandekar and McKinley on accepting Hatch’s apology. 
The latter first.

It’s spurious to even believe that either would understand the level of hurt and pain (the 'n" word) incurs.  Just being a “minority” does not constitute one’s understanding, particularly when historically African Americans have been called and continue to be called (the 'n' word) which is a derogatory term meant to demean, belittle, and deem a people as “insignificant” and not part of the society they helped build.  
African Americans, myself included, are discriminated against on a daily basis because of ingrained fears and hatred of African Americans based on negative stereotypes created throughout history.  Saying to a colleague, “we’re being treated like (the 'n' word) does not work to eliminate those beliefs, but only accentuates the fears.  It also allows non-African Americans to believe they, too, are superior, which feeds into the ongoing arrogance in thinking.
I think the acts of comfort were misdirected. 
….Secondly, we are all under pressure…that is no excuse.  My main concern regarding Sen. Hatch’s comment is why was it even NECESSARY to resort to that level?  Would that have been said to a White male colleague.  I think not.  I think there is a problem deeper than just words.
Finally, there have been comments on whether or not Sen. Hatch is racist.  I do not believe that, nor did racism even cross my mind.  Again my only question, why was it necessary to go there?  The answer lies deep in Jack.
Rep. Deborah Berry

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Sorry but this word won’t go away until everyone stops using it, including African Americans, as NO ONE has the rights to the use of any one word.


  3. Why is this getting spun out of control? He wasn’t calling Ako “the n’ word”. He was saying that’s how they’re being treated by the current leadership. He was saying the leadership has no respect for anyone. Like master and slaves. Do you people get it. All these people saying their offended are just covering leaderships tail and trying to direct attention away from the real issue that is what has become of medern day politics. It’s just how the system works. Pat Murphy and Mike Gronstal are someone elses “N word” and their just passing it on.