The Ohio NAACP on Friday called for state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, to resign his legislative seat after he asked a witness in a hearing whether the “colored population” has been hit harder by COVID because they may not wash their hands as well as other groups.
Previously, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio and ACLU of Ohio also had called for Huffman to resign.
Huffman, an emergency room physician, did not return messages seeking comment.
Ohio NAACP President Tom Roberts, who previously represented Huffman’s district in the Legislature, said in a written statement that Huffman’s “explicit, hurtful, cruel stereotyping is beyond the pale” and noted that he represents why African Americans are discriminated against in health care settings.
The comment and question were captured on camera during a Senate Health Committee hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis.
Earlier this month, Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, issued a statement regarding Huffman’s remarks:
“Senator Huffman’s language was not appropriate and was hurtful to many. I have spoken to him and made clear that it has no place in our discourse. He has apologized and has begun the process of seeking and earning the forgiveness of those hurt by his remarks. The Senate is committed to learning from this moment. Moving forward, we will include training on diversity and inclusion, and implicit bias, as part of our training for both members and staff.”
After the Dayton Daily News published a story about Huffman’s remarks, Team Health, a physician staffing company, fired him. Huffman’s financial disclosure statement indicates he earned more than $100,000 a year from the Team Health job.
Huffman posted a lengthy apology on his Facebook page last week that said in part: “I had absolutely no malicious intent, but I recognize that my choice of words was unacceptable and hurtful. I apologize, and I make no excuses. Those who know me will tell you that I have nothing but love and respect for all people, and I would never intentionally disrespect or denigrate anyone for any reason.”
He added that he is reaching out to those he offended to ask for their forgiveness, their input and their guidance “on how we can turn this mistake into a time of learning as we work together to build a better Ohio.”
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