An Indian-American lawmaker serving in the Tennessee House of Representatives has said that a recently-expelled Democrat hurled a racial slur at him, calling him the “brown face of Indian supremacy”.
Sabi Kumar, 75, told Fox News that during a debate in the statehouse, Democrat Justin Jones, 27, shoved his finger in his face and said: “Kumar, they will never accept you.”
The remarks against Kumar came just before the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel Reps Jones and Justin Pearson from the Legislature for their role in a protest calling for gun control after a shooting at a private school in Nashville that killed six people.
“I have been here for 53 years, and I have practice surgery. I have lived in Tennessee for 46 years, and people have been extremely kind to me. I was really surprised, and that these things should not happen, especially in a place where people are constantly guarding the values in such a way that discrimination and racism does not occur,” Kumar said at the ‘Tucker Carlson’ show.
Fox News reported that Jones was sanctioned for using a bullhorn when he joined with protesters, which State House leaders called “disorderly behaviour”.
President Joe Biden criticised the move in a tweet, saying: “Three kids and three officials gunned down in yet another mass shooting. And what are GOP officials focused on? Punishing lawmakers who joined thousands of peaceful protesters calling for action. It’s shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.”
Responding to Jones’ charge during the debate, Kumar said having lived in the country for 53 years, he never faced a racial slur.
“I live a good life, yet you, on tape, called me a brown face,” Kumar told Jones.
“You shove your finger in my face and said Kumar they will never accept you. You said it twice… You have insulted your colleagues. You have insulted the House of Representatives… You have insulted our speaker you have personally insulted me.”
He finished his statement by calling Jones “a talented young man” who has “a lot to offer”.
“…it’s sad what you just stated to me, and that’s what this is really about. He said ‘You see everything under the lens of race, when you join this body, you should just become one of us. Just assimilate”, Jones said in response to Kumar.
Kumar, the only non-white member of the Republican caucus, immigrated to the US from India in 1970, working as a surgeon in Miami from 1971 to 1977 after which he moved to Springfield.
Currently the Chairman of the House Insurance Committee, Kumar won the Tennessee House of Representatives’ 66th district in 2014, and has represented it since then.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)