But, as we found out on April 27, that’s just because she was saving up her material.
During debate on a measure that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to end affirmative action programs in state education, contracting and employment, Kern went off.
Her comments from the House floor have garnered national media attention: “Is this just because they’re black that they’re in prison, or could it be because they didn’t want to work hard in school? And white people oftentimes don’t want to work hard in school or Asians oftentimes, but a lot of time that’s what happens. I taught school for 20 years, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t want to work as hard.
They wanted it given to them. Matter of fact, I had one student that said, ‘I don’t need to study. You know why? The government’s going to take care of me.’” Of course, Kern would not offend only “people of color” that day:
“Women usually don’t want to work as hard as a man,” Kern said. “... Women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time.
“I’m not saying women don’t work hard. … Women like … to have a moderate work life with plenty of time for spouse and children and other things like that. ... They work very hard, but sometimes they aren’t willing to commit their whole life to their job like a lot of men do.”
Having been relegated to a minority with little impact on legislation or the legislative agenda, we imagine Democrats nearly fell out of their reclining swivel chairs during the rush to issue press releases condemning Kern’s comments.
Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, called the comments “racist and sexist.”
“Such immoral beliefs have no place in a civilized society,” Rice said. “I am shocked that a member of the Legislature would show such disrespect and mean-spiritedness by expressing such antiquated and bigoted views.”
Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa, called Kern’s remarks reprehensible, and Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, described them as “unbelievable.”
“I am very offended at the comments ... as it reveals the willful ignorance that pervades our society and the false stereotypes that hinder progress,” added Rep.
Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “I am perplexed that at this time there would be a perceived need in our state to end affirmative action programs, and I hope others feel the same when they realize the mind-set of certain elected officials.”
For her part, Kern issued an actual apology-apology on the issue, rather than one of the standard non-apology apologies many politicians are fond of issuing that often begin with “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my comments…”
“I want to humbly apologize for my statements ... about African Americans and women,” Kern said in her written statement. “I believe that our government should not provide preference based on race or gender. I misspoke while trying to convey this point last night during debate. Women are some of the hardest workers in the world. My husband is a pastor of a diverse inner-city church, and the way that my words came out last night is certainly not my true spirit.”
On April 29, Rep. Kern broke into tears speaking at a gun range in OKC.
“I am not a racist; I am not a bigot,” she said. “The media take one little slice of something and blow it way out of context. Now, did I use a poor choice of words in the middle part (of the debate).”
Kern also claimed that “reverse discrimination” is an “elephant in the room” that had not been previously addressed. The audience responded with applause.