“When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race,” Marble said during a meeting of the legislature’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force. “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. Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.”
Marble added that Mexicans, for example, have healthier diets in their homelands but stop when they immigrate to America.
“The Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables, and you go down there and they are much thinner than they are up here. They’ve changed their diet. I’ve read studies on that.”
That Marble is a member of the task force is what makes her remarks even more disturbing. The comments offended several legislators on the committee, including Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, who is Black.
Listen to Colorado state Senator Vicki Marble’s comments below:
“You mentioned what we eat — I was highly offended by your remarks,” Fields said. “I will not engage in a dialogue where you are using these stereotypical references about African-Americans and chicken and food. I will not tolerate that. This is not what this committee is all about. … What we are trying to do is come up with meaningful solutions. This is not about eating chicken.”
Marble tried to respond to Fields, but Sen. John Kefalas of Fort Collins , the committee chairman, called for a recess “so we can all take a deep breath.” When the committee returned, the subject was not brought up.
Marble released a statement Wednesday night.
“My comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community,” she said. “I am saddened they were taken in that regard. I take my responsibility seriously and I hope our work on this committee will offer real solutions to the health and financial challenges of our vulnerable populations.”
“To bring it down to fried chicken and BBQ is insulting not just to a race of people but to all the people of Colorado,” Johnson said. “This task force is doing good work to address poverty, but these comments are a distraction.”