GOP lawmaker claims calling colleague 'Buckwheat' is 'term of endearment'

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The term, which Colorado state Rep. Richard Holtorf used in a floor speech, is a reference to a racist caricature of Black children.

Colorado state Rep. Richard Holtorf (R) came under fire on Wednesday after referring to another member of the state House of Representatives as "buckwheat," a term long been associated with racist stereotypes.

Holtorf made the remark during a speech from the House floor, after a colleague interjected.

"I'm getting there, don't worry buckwheat, I'm getting there," he said. "That's an endearing term, by the way."

At that point the proceedings were halted and Holtorf was admonished by the House speaker for referring to individuals in an "inappropriate manner."

It wasn't immediately clear to whom the slur was directed. At least one House member, Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, admonished Holtorf for the remark.

Under fire from his colleagues, Holtorf responded by shouting into the microphone, "Why are you yelling at me?"

The House speaker ultimately called a recess before audio for the feed was cut off. Holtorf could be seen arguing with fellow members and being pulled away from his lectern by others.

After the recess, Holtorf returned and said, "I apologize if I offended anyone in any way. It is not my intent."

The term "buckwheat" has often referred to the character Buckwheat, who appeared in the comedy series "Our Gang," also known as "The Little Rascals." The character was a racist caricature of Black children, referred to as "picaninny."

"The picaninny was the dominant racial caricature of black children for most of this country's history," the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia notes. "Picaninnies had bulging eyes, unkempt hair, red lips, and wide mouths into which they stuffed huge slices of watermelon."

This is not the first time Holtorf, who identifies as Hispanic American according to the Denver Post, has been criticized for making racist remarks.

In April, Rep. Naquetta Ricks (D) claimed Holtorf responded to a mass shooting in Boulder by speaking to her about Black-on-Black crime.

"He starts talking about Black-on-Black crime. I’m like, ‘Where are you going with this?’ But they kind of try to bait you like that," Ricks told the Denver Post.

Discussing concerns among Black representatives about racist remarks from other assembly members, Holtorf told the outlet, "It's a two-way street, and the Black caucus could temper their remarks."

In response to a Black representative's speech condemning the role of white supremacy in America, following a spate of shootings at several Atlanta-area spas, which left multiple Asian American women dead, Holtorf pushed back, saying, "We’re Americans first. We have to start with that premise. We can’t continue to politically divide and racially divide ourselves."

He added that in college he "had a friend who was an African American and he was a homosexual, and we were good buddies."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.