A Michigan lawmaker is defending himself against charges of racism by pointing to his one African-American employee.
Republican State Senator Marty Knollenberg is being strongly criticized for remarks he made during an education committee meeting.
“You mentioned these school districts failing, and you mention economically disadvantaged and non-white population are the contributors to that. I know we can’t fix that. We can’t make an African-American white. That’s just, it is what it is,” Knollenberg said, according to local affiliate WXYZ.
“I Have an African-American Employee Who Works for Me,” Says Mich. Lawmaker Accused of RacismClick to tweet
“I was disgusted to hear any human, especially an elected official who is responsible for creating policy, to talk that way,” Rep Brian Banks, (D-Detroit) told the station. “It is clear you have some built in racism. It is clear you are out of touch with reality. As an elected official, as one of your colleagues, you owe us an apology.”
Knollenberg told a reporter from the local station that he’s not racist and those who know him would surely vouch for his character.
“If they knew me they would know that I am not racist at all,” he said.
Knollenberg insists that his comment was taken out of context during the education reform meeting.
“I have an African-American employee who works for me,” Knollenberg boasted.
He admits, however, that he regrets having offended people with his comment.
“I can apologize to people who felt that way,” said Knollenberg. “My passion is for improving education and making sure every single child gets a good education. We should not have failing schools anywhere.”