At the June 20 Kent Chamber of Commerce Legislative Wrap-up Membership Luncheon, Sen. Mona Das (47th District-Kent) made some controversial comments about misogyny and sexism in Olympia that have gotten her into some hot water.
In her 8-minute speech, Das said:
“After they close that door, that’s when it gets real. That’s when my 28 colleagues got real. And that’s when I heard hate…that’s when I heard misogyny, and racism, and sexism from people you would not expect. That’s the type of light I want to shine. Now, when there are eight people of color in the Senate Democratic caucus, it was coded language instead – ‘those people.’ They would say things that were coded.”
Here’s an unedited clip of her full speech:
Later, Das released the following statement:
Senator Mona Das says that her fellow Democrats in the chamber have never said anything overtly sexist or racist, and she says that her recent comments to a chamber of commerce audience were referencing coded language that she hears everywhere, including the caucus room.
Das also posted this on her Facebook page:
You may read a story in the Kent Reporter that talks about racism in the legislature. While it makes good copy for a story, it neglects to include the context of my remarks.
Like every institution, we have work to do on structural issues and implied bias in our work. I was not singling out the Senate for those issues or bias. I was merely stating that every institution faces those issues.
Compared to many other institutions, our caucus understands that these issues are there and I’m excited to work with all of you to continue to address these challenges.
Based on this mischaracterization of my remarks, I am going to start the process of introducing a bill that addresses these issues throughout State Government. I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s the full transcript of Das’ speech at the chamber:
Everybody…so I lost my voice. I sprained my ankle nine weeks ago. I got strep throat but this is what it’s like to be a woman in office. I had what I wanted to share with you today. You can read it and I can give you copies of all the four hundred and eighty five summaries of the bills that we passed that are incredible. I know that you can read and you can find them information. What I like to share with you today is what it’s like to be an elected official.
And what it’s really hard to be a woman of color running for office and what I want to share with you is how important it is as you is our community. For those of you voted for us and those of you who did it. It’s OK. We’re still going to represent you. And what I want to talk to you about is give a little real zinger right of reality to anyone. I want to get real and talk with you about what it’s like to do the work that we do. And I want to just say thank you to my colleagues Deborah and Mia and I we as women of color to a lot of heavy lifting for our communities and we need your help.
White allies in the room. We need you to show up. We can’t keep doing this.
I’m exhausted. I sprained my ankle two weeks before session and I was in a boot camp walking around the hall of the marble halls of Olympia. I’m going to tell you it was hard to go to work every day. The racism and the sexism and misogyny that we experienced is real and it’s not OK anymore. And now when you elect people of color at the table don’t tell us to be quiet. It’s not okay.
I’m a business owner. So a little bit about me I run a business for 14 years. I help first time homebuyers buy homes. I. Run multiple businesses. I’m a startup Queen. I ran two campaigns to get to where I am started running for the U.S. Congress ended up in the state Senate.
Thank you for sending me there. For those of you who voted for us we all thought you did it. Thank you. I’m grateful to be there. Oh my great. When I ran was if you’re not on the table you’re under the table you’re on the menu and for women and people of color we’ve been on menu on the menu for thousands of years. And I will tell you what happens when the caucus door closes. That doesn’t mean anything to you it means when the Democrats get together and the Republicans get together to talk about bills.
They go into what’s called caucus and then they close the door and after they close out the door that’s when it gets really back to my 20 colleagues. Got room. And that’s when I heard hate. That’s when I heard misogyny and racism. And sexism from people you would not expect. And that’s the type of life that I want to shine. Is that when.
Now there are eight people of color in the Senate Democratic caucus it was coded language instead. Those people they would say things that were coded.
So what I want to share with you is that elections matter who you bring to office matters. The people sitting at the table matter and you didn’t vote last time. Shame on you. And you better vote now because it is important my life his life and all of these lives are in danger every day. When you’re elected officials don’t actually represent everybody. I know this is not what you expected to hear from me today but I am fired up. I just took a month vacation to overcome the trauma that I experienced or running for office for two years.
I’m a business owner like I mentioned I went to Hawaii and had some time off and I launched a new business while I was there. And so I would talk to you about that because you know I love your kids. I love this community. I’m super excited and honored and proud to represent this community again. Thank you. Lot of people in this room. I’ll get there and not being outdoors and all those things. Thank you. My new business is to promote people like me. I want to take away the secret message of what it’s like to run for office and shine a light to help folks like a while we.
While he is my first client. And I did call time today. I’m going to help him fundraise. I’m going to help candidates that look like me get there. We need more people at the table because the good news is when you have people in office and I won’t speak for me and Deborah but I will speak for myself. When you have someone like me at the table and you are legislating for the bottom half the bottom third the bottom tenth you legislate for everybody. Because we are not equal and there is no equality we are not free.
And I’m going to say once again if you didn’t hear me they hate the sexism the racism the misogyny that I experience in that caucus room door closed with shock only the white folks front because the round of some of them. And so I’m very proud of the legislation that we passed. Four hundred and eighty five bills that help people of color that help poor people that help women that help businesses that help. People like you and people like me every day. I’m very proud of the work that we did. And I’m going to tell you how hard.
It was to pass some of this legislation. And I would tell you the only reason why this legislation passed is because we had six new senators take up the six of us three of us for people of color who were lesbians.
One was Jewish two were hippies.
You know I mean you got this like completely different mix of people. And we were all much younger than our colleagues. And that is what changed the legislature this year. And I won’t talk about the house was not in the house. But I think you know well you folks don’t.
Money. There are a lot. More people of color more with more people were advocates and advocates.
And activists and people who are just tired of this as well. So I hope that you vote next time. And I hope that you help people like me and Debra and Mia and anyone else that needs a helping hand to get elected. I look forward to your questions. I know this isn’t I mean I have no plans to do this Mike spoke but I just get on myself. Ana. And it really well. And you know. How absolutely grateful. And honored I am to represent her community as a business owner as a business woman as an environmentalist as a tree hugging hippie as an Indian as a woman who came here with her family with six dollars from India.
I am fighting for all of you every day….