A Republican lawmaker said his comment that “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in Arizona’s minority-laden public schools was an attempt at an honest discussion on race.
Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, said today he wants people to hear his full speech rather than the 51-second snippet making the rounds on social media, so he plans to re-post the entire 17-minute video in which he also says immigration is “politically destabilizing” and “presents an existential threat”
He said while his comments were well received by people at the June 11 meeting of the Yavapai Republican Men’s Forum’s, the video recording of his speech was later taken down after he received heat from teachers who felt that his remarks were racist.
Tempe City Councilman David Schapira, a Democrat running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, posted the 51-second excerpt with Stringer’s remarks on immigration on Twitter.
“Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around,” Stringer said on the video.
Stringer’s GOP seatmates Rep. Noel Campbell and Sen. Karen Fann also spoke at the event.
“If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country and we will not be the country you were born into,” Stringer said.
Stringer told the Arizona Capitol Times that the lawmakers, who represent Legislative District 1, were invited to speak at the group’s legislative wrap-up event. He said he spoke about criminal justice, education and touched on his accomplishments during the 2018 session, but wanted to end on immigration, an important topic he said needs to be broached regardless of how difficult the conversation may be.
The freshman lawmaker said his campaign manager live streamed his comments and the video was posted to his campaign Facebook page, which he said he doesn’t manage.
Stringer said his intent wasn’t to make a racially charged statement and while he apologized to anyone he offended with his comments, he said pointing out that 60 percent of students in Arizona’s public school are children of color is “not a racist comment, it’s a statement of fact.”
“I maybe touched a third rail of politics but what I said is accurate,” he said. “Anybody that talks about this in this way is shut down and called a racist. I’m speaking the truth. Diversity may be a great thing, there might be a lot of advantages, I’m not arguing against diversity at all, but no country can be demographically transformed without any political or social consequences.”
He said the country’s high level of immigration over a short period of time has “gotten out of hand.” He said so many people have immigrated to the United States in the last few decades that there hasn’t been enough time for people to assimilate, which can be costly, has led to unrest, and has led to changes in the country’s cultural and social identity.
“This is unprecedented in world history. We kind of take it for granted because we see it all around us. But it is unprecedented for one society to demographically change in such a short amount of time,” he said.
ProgressNow Arizona, a Democratic advocacy group, denounced Stringer’s comments. The organization’s co-director, Josselyn Berry, said his comments embody Republicans’ “true colors,” and she described the Republican party as the party of “radicalism, xenophobia, and frankly, racism.”
“Stringer’s racist and paranoid comments that we must protect the white race or America will be taken over are dangerous, fear mongering and hateful,” Berry said in a statement. “That he thinks it’s acceptable to attack children in our schools is despicable and he should be ashamed. It should go without saying that all children deserve an education, regardless of their skin color.”
Still, Stringer said while his comments may have made some uncomfortable, it’s a conversation that needs to be had.
“Race is a difficult issue we have not yet resolved in this country and we should be able to have an honest conversation without being called out as a racist,” he said.