A Republican State Senator in Colorado, speaking at a hearing on the causes of poverty, suggested that African-American poverty is related to health problems that come from eating too much delicious chicken and barbecue.
Vicki Marble, who represents Fort Collins, Colo., in a meeting of the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force in Denver. Her remarks, described by a local TV station as a “long soliloquy,” came in response to statistics presented at the meeting showing racial and ethnic differences in poverty rates.
“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race,” Marble opined. “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.”
She then went on to tell the stunned gathering, “Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you — I love it.”
Her comments drew audible gasps from those present. Marble (pictured, standing) went on the critique the health habits of Mexican immigrants, saying that while Mexicans in their native country eat plenty of fresh vegetables, they forgo their healthy dining habits when they arrive in the United States.
“These things aren’t good for you,” she continued. “There’s so many attributing factors as to why these graphs look the way they do.”
In fact, Mexico suffers higher obesity rates than the U.S.
“I was highly offended by your remarks,” responded task force member Rep. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat. “I will not engage in a dialogue 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.”
After the exchange, the committee’s chairman called for a break to “catch our breath.”
Marble later put out a statement saying that her remarks were not intended to be disparaging, saying she was “saddened” that they were taken that way.