Queens Borough President Helen Marshall referred to Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), the first Asian-American congresswoman from New York, as “Chinese” at a rally for the Voting Rights Act held last Friday.
“We have this wonderful young Chinese woman who works in this borough,” Marshall said to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who also spoke at the event [see separate story]. The borough president was speaking of the greater role minorities have come to play in the electoral process in recent years.
Meng is an American citizen born and raised in Queens.
Marshall’s aides were quick to jump in and mention it was Meng — who was not in attendance — the borough president was referring to.
“Oh yes, Grace Meng,” Marshall said after she was reminded. “Yes, she has done wonderful things for our borough and is a prime example of the strides our borough has made.”
Queried afterward, Marshall’s office said the borough president’s statement was not meant to be negative, only that Meng’s name had briefly slipped her mind.
In fact, Marshall spoke quite highly of Meng during the rally.
The office of the congresswoman, who was taking a congressional tour of Israel at the time, declined to comment.
With reporting by Tess McRae.