5:12pm March 29, 2013

Wetbacks: GOP Minority Outreach Hits Racist Road Bump Via Rep. Don Young


“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, told radio station KRBD-FM matter-of-factly. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine,” he added with zero realization that his words in the sentence before would inspire condemnation.

Young’s use of the racist term to describe migrant workers is yet another bad moment on the rocky road of Republican minority outreach. Just last week GOP Chair Reince Priebus outlined those new efforts.

At 79, Young is one of the longest serving members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the second longest-serving Republican in Congress.  Young later made an attempt at an apology, saying that he meant “no disrespect” when he used the term “wetbacks” to describe migrant workers. “I used a word that was commonly used,” Young pointed out.

But that such an obviously racist term could be used so casually and during a radio interview by a sitting senior member of Congress has clearly surprised many of Young’s colleagues, some of whom have been quick to denounced them.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made a strong statement regarding Young’s use of the racial slur.

“Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,” Speaker Boehner said. “I don’t care why he said it — there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus put out a statement saying that Young’s racist words, “emphatically do not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party.”

Embarrassing incidents such as the Young affair occur only a week before Congress is expected to work on immigration reform. Young’s words also come after Priebus announced a specific effort to court minority voters.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) released a statement mentioning those efforts that contained a hint of biting sarcasm.

“As the Republican minority outreach efforts develop, I’d advise their strategists to list ‘don’t say racial slurs like “wetback”‘ as a bedrock for their messaging,” Hinojosa said.

About the Author

Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, speaker, strategist, comms expert and political analyst. She created Crewof42.com, a blog that covers the work of Black members of Congress, in 2009. She's been a former staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and has had a very diverse career in politics and media. Ms. Burke appears regularly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne and has been seen on MSNBC. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail anytime: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42. Instagram: LVB325. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and have complete editorial independence from any Politic365 partners, sponsors, or advertisers.



After 5-Month-Old is Shot Dead in Cleveland, LeBron James Speaks Out on Guns

Basketball icon LeBron James is speaking out for more gun control after the shooting death of 5-month-old Aavielle Wakefield in Cleveland. James’ involvement is politics is fairly rare but he did use his stature to put a...
by Lauren Victoria Burke

Criminal Justice Reform

Senators Finally Offer Justice Bill

Though the details have been kept secret until a press conference today, members of the Senate led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are planning to announce new justice reform legislatio...
by Lauren Victoria Burke


Everyone Has So Much Grand Advice for #BlackLivesMatter, John Lewis Comments

Rep. John Lewis has nothing critical to say about #BlackLivesMatter… and he’s been there.  It’s impressive how much unsolicited advice the Black Lives Matter movement and leaders have gotten. Focus on this, d...
by Lauren Victoria Burke



The Gaping Hole in Pope Francis’ Anti-Poverty Agenda

By Jessica González-Rojas “This papacy begins with a name,” wrote Howard Chua-Eoan and Elizabeth Dias in their 2013 “Person of the Year” profile of Pope Francis for Time Magazine. Indeed, when the man formerly known ...
by Guest Contributor


Jeb Bush Rolls Out the Welfare Queen After Ben Carson Appeals to Bigots

Same ‘ol Southern Strategy by “Modern” GOP on Race.  Why is it that the “modern” Republican party is seemingly incapable of running a positive messaging campaign based on what they would do in pow...
by Lauren Victoria Burke



  1. [...] Wetbacks: GOP Minority Outreach Hits Racist Roadbump Via Rep. Don Young [...]

  2. [...] EmpireListen To All Of Republican Congressman's 'Wetback' CommentsMediaitePolitic365 -WLOS -TPMall 174 news [...]

  3. [...] radio show and …'Wetback' Comment: Yet Another Step Back for GOP?The Fiscal TimesWetbacks: GOP Minority Outreach Hits Racist Road Bump Via Rep. Don YoungPolitic365Young Apologizes for 'Wetback' CommentRoll Callall 175 news [...]

  4. [...] and … ‘Wetback’ Comment: Yet Another Step Back for GOP? The Fiscal Times Wetbacks: GOP Minority Outreach Hits Racist Road Bump Via Rep. Don Young Politic365 Young Apologizes for ‘Wetback’ Comment Roll Call all 175 news [...]

  5. [...] News & World Report (blog)Alaska Rep. Young makes statement on migrant referenceJuneau EmpirePolitic365 -TPM -Daily Mailall 191 news [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>