A Colorado lawmaker is under fire after calling a black female colleague “buckwheat” during a tense exchange.
Richard Holtorf, a Republican legislator, said during a debate about military rules of engagement. While struggling to get his point across, Holtorf looked over at a colleague and said, “I’m getting there. Don’t worry, Buckwheat. I’m getting there.”
He followed up by saying, “That’s an endearing term, by the way.” The remark led to an immediate recess in the session and sparked a brief shouting match between Holtorf and two other representatives.
For context, “Buckwheat” was a character from the Little Rascals created in the 40s and 50s. The character became representative of many racial stereotypes.
Holtorf eventually apologized. “I had no intentions of insulting, hurting anyone’s feelings, or being racial or using a racial slur in any way,” he said. “Where I’m from in eastern Colorado, as a country boy, I’ve had people call me that term many times. Buckwheat. It has a different connotation where I’m from.”
“I guess I didn’t have the insight to realize that that would be received in such a negative way,” he concluded.