Former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry just wanted more funding for the nursing program at the University of the District of Columbia. He was, he might argue, just trying to help.

Oddly, however, he tried to do it this way. According an article by Tim Craig in the Washington Post:

At a hearing Monday on the University of the District of Columbia’s budget, he spoke about the need to train more African Americans to become nurses. Barry noted a growing number of nurses are “immigrants” from the Philippines.

“[I]f you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines,” said Barry (D-Ward 8). “And no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses, and so that we don’t have to go scrounging in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”

In response, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations said that the former mayor’s remarks were “racist” and “bigoted.”

Historically the Philippines has been a major supplier of nurses to the United States. About 30 percent of foreign-educated nurses in this country ultimately come from the Philippines.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer