"If 300 Asian people show up, why is there this question about whether they live here?"

A marijuana debate in California has allegedly sparked racism towards Chinese immigrants.

As reported by Daily Post, a debate a bout marijuana sales in Mountain View, California, has resulted in racism towards Chinese residents.

Vice Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga has accused two former mayors of racist assumptions towards the Chinese residents who oppose pot stores.

Former Mayor Ken Rosenberg, who was in favour of legal pot stores, claimed that those opposing the stores were not Mountain View residents. Other supporters said the council should not listen to the “vocal minority,” referring to the Chinese opposition.

Abe-Koga said the stance against the opposition was one of racism and asked why their residency was questioned.

“If 50 white people show up to talk about housing, we say, ‘Oh, that was a lot of people,’ and we listen to them,” she said. “But if we have 300 Asian people show up, why is there this question about whether they live here or if they’re a minority or not?”

Former Mayor Lenny Siegel criticised a Chinese-language election flyer that claimed candidates Ellen Kamei and Alison Hicks would “propose limiting” the stores, even though they did not make such public statements. When Siegel addressed the flyer at the council, Siegel told Abe-Koge to stop “smirking” at him.

In response, Abe-Koga said she was disappointed that the marijuana debate had turned into one about race.

“I wasn’t smirking. I was glaring because I’m very upset about this. This is not a racial issue, and somehow it’s been made to be,” she said. “Asian folks who came and spoke — they should not have to say, ‘Well, I’m part of the Chinese-American community, but I support it, or I’m against it.’ We don’t expect the white people to come up and say that.”

Siegel also reportedly claimed that Chinese immigrants opposed marijuana stores due to their understanding of the Opium Wars. Abe-Koge refuted the claim.

Abe-Koga also criticized Siegel for publicly suggesting on a Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits panel on

“When a former council member asked me, ‘Why do Asian people oppose pot?’ I didn’t know how to answer that, to be honest,” Abe-Koga said at council Tuesday. “And then when I hear that same council member at a public forum saying, ‘Asian people are against pot because of the Opium Wars,’ um, that’s a real problem to me.”

“I think Americans, whether they’re Asian or not, should learn about the history about the plundering of China,” Siegel said. “Americans have a very short view of history.”

“I said nothing to indicate that I didn’t think that Chinese immigrants had a right to tell us what they thought. It was a matter of trying to understand them,” Siegel also said. “I see no problem in asking questions about the racial implications of drug use and drug suppression.”

 

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