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Mona Das: meetings in the legislature full of “hate, misogyny, racism and sexism”

Editor’s note: Since this article was published, the Associated Press reports that Sen. Das has released a statement clarifying these remarks. From the article:

“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.

“‘The caucus room doesn’t close and horrible hate speech doesn’t come out of folks’ mouths,’ she said Wednesday. She said she was talking directly about the use of terms like “those people” and other phrases that distance those in diverse groups.”

A recent article in the Kent Reporter details remarks made by freshman Senator Mona Das, where she described meetings in the Legislature as full of “hate, misogyny, racism and sexism.” The comments were made at a legislative wrap-up conversation with a Kent Chamber of Commerce audience.

The article, authored by reporter Steve Hunter, highlights the following statements from Das:

“It was hard to go to work everyday,” Das told the audience. “The racism, and the sexism and the misogyny that we experienced is real. And it’s not OK anymore. And when you elect people of color at the table, don’t tell us to be quiet. It’s not OK.”

In regards to closed-door meetings with the Senate Democratic caucus, Das said,

“After they close that door, that’s when it gets real,” she said. “That’s when my 28 colleagues got real. And that’s when I heard hate, 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 – ‘those people.’ They would say things that were coded.”

Das also described how it was difficult to pass legislation – specifically, bills that help women, people of color, and poor people.  

“I am going to tell you how hard it was to pass some of this legislation,” she said. “The only reason it passed is because we had six new senators. Of the six of us, three of us are people of color, two are lesbians and one is Jewish. And we were all much younger than our colleagues, and that is what changed the Legislature this year.”

“I am going to say it again,” Das said. “The hate, sexism, racism and misogyny I experienced when that caucus room door closed would shock only the white folks in the room because the brown folks know it’s there.”

Before the start of the 2019 session, Sen. Das discussed the importance of diversity in leadership in this Washington State Wire podcast. Das described her journey on the campaign trail as a woman of color, and highlighted the importance of representation for all residents of the state.  

According to the Kent Reporter, Das has launched a new business as a consultant for people of color running for office.