Sen. Vicki Marble under fire after comments on fried chicken, BBQ in poverty hearing

Rep. Rhonda Field calls comments 'racist'

DENVER - A Republican state senator comes under fire after her comments during a hearing on poverty reduction, referencing blacks eating fried chicken and Mexicans not eating vegetables when they come to the United States.

Sen. Vicki Marble, (R) Fort Collins, made the rambling remarks during a meeting of the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force.

"When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race," said Marble. "Sickle cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it. Although I’ve got to say I’ve never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South, and you I mean, I love it. And everybody loves it. ”

Marble continued: “The Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables, and you go down there and they are much thinner than they are up here. They’ve changed their diet. I’ve read studies on that.”

Rep. Rhonda Fields, (D) Aurora, responded to the comments almost immediately, calling them "racist" and "insensitive".

“I was highly offended by your remarks,” said Fields. "I will not engage in a dialog where I am in the company you are using these stereotype references about African Americans and chicken and food. I will just not tolerate that. This is not what this committee is all about. What we are trying to do is come up with meaningful solutions. It’s not about chicken.”

Marble released this statement late Wednesday: "My comments were not meant to be disparaging to any community. I am saddened they were taken in that regard. I take my responsibility seriously and I hope our work on this committee will offer real solutions to the health and financial challenges of our vulnerable populations."

But James Johnson, with the Colorado chapter of the NAACP, said that at the very least, Marble's comments reinforced racial stereotypes.

"To bring it down to fried chicken and BBQ is insulting not just to a race of people but to all the people of Colorado," said Johnson. "This task force is doing good work to address poverty, but these comments are a distraction."
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