Colorado Republican’s use of “Buckwheat” moniker during House discussion condemned

Colorado state Rep. Richard Holtorf, a Republican from the Eastern Plains, called a colleague “Buckwheat” while delivering remarks on the House floor this week. (Here’s the video.)

Holtorf said he meant it as a term of endearment, but most others didn’t take it that way — Buckwheat is a Black caricature, so many lawmakers interpreted it the same way as if he’d called someone “Speedy Gonzales” or “Aladdin.” Holtorf claims he was addressing Latino Democrat David Ortiz when he used that term, but Black caucus members were — and are — furious.

Holtorf offends his colleagues on a regular basis. He told Rep. Tom Sullivan, the father of an Aurora theater shooting victim, to get over that loss. He defended Rep. Ron Hanks for making a joke about lynching and claiming the three-fifths compromise wasn’t racist. During a debate on abolishing Columbus Day, he argued that the Indigenous people who were slaughtered by colonizers weren’t very nice people.

What did feel new Wednesday was the reaction from the chamber. Last month, Black caucus members called on their white colleagues to help stamp out racism in the Capitol. Sullivan, who shouted Holtorf down this week, took that to heart.

“You’ve got to say something when you hear something that’s outrageous. Who are you calling Buckwheat? I know what that word is. I know what you meant. I’ve listened to him the whole time he’s been here. I know who he is,” Sullivan said.

Ortiz said he hopes the chamber can reset and put an end to the “constant stream of f***ery.”

“The fact that white allies are ready to jump up to put some real pressure, I respect that,” he added.

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