April 19, 2022
“Twenty-three local and regional community leaders wrote a letter to California Democratic congressional candidate Jay Chen calling on him to apologize for commenting on the accent of Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif.
The letter led by Steel’s California Republican colleague Rep. Young Kim was sent Monday amid a race that is getting more heated as November draws closer.
“I’ve dealt with racist attacks my whole life, but it won’t stop me from proudly sharing my voice,” Steel said in a press release. “Like so many immigrants, my accent is my story and my opponent’s attacks are offensive to all immigrants.”
“The leaders wrote in their letter that, as immigrants and descendants of immigrants, they were “deeply hurt” by Chen’s “recent comment mocking the accent of Congresswoman Michelle Steel.”
“Chen, a Democrat running against Steel, made headlines after Fox News Digital reported on a video of him speaking at an April 7 meet and greet in the Congregation B’nai Tzedek synagogue in Fountain Valley, California, where he made the comments about Steel’s accent.
“Yeah, so she just had another town hall the other day. And, umm, it’s tough. Like, we’ve transcribed it,” Chen said.
“You kind of need an interpreter to figure out exactly what she’s saying,” the Democrat added, drawing laughter from the crowd. “The more she speaks, the better for us.”
“The officials wrote that “many in this community have worked hard to learn and speak English, albeit with an accent” and that the “idea” Chen “would use their accent and heritage as a punch line to a joke is ugly and heartbreaking for the entire AAPI community.”
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