*A Republican politician from Texas recently used the racial slur “coonass” when referring to children displaced after Hurricane Katrina.*A Republican politician from Texas recently used the racial slur “coonass” when referring to children displaced after Hurricane Katrina, reports ThinkProgress.org.
Dennis Bonnen is currently the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Texas House of Representatives, whose position calls for him to stand in when the Speaker of the House is absent.
Bonnen uttered the slur at a hearing on the fiscal impact of migrants crossing the border into Texas. During a discussion on what resources would be needed in schools to accommodate migrant children, Bonnen recalled Texas’ experience educating children who moved from Louisiana.
“I want to be clear,” he said. “A Katrina child is far different. We can make jokes and pick on Louisiana and it’s fun and all that, but it’s a hell of a lot different bringing a kid over from Louisiana than a child who’s just made a treacherous journey from South America. … We had to have a teacher who could do coonass and English, but here we have to do Spanish and English, maybe, and there’s a higher marker.”
Perhaps just as telling…no one at the hearing appeared to take offense (except maybe the lady in red). Watch below:
In addition to “coon” being a derogatory term to describe African Americans, the term “coonass” refers to people of Cajun descent, notes ThinkProgress. It is considered an offensive slur by many Cajuns, and Dictionary.com describes it as a “vulgar slang term” that is “used with disparaging intent and is perceived as insulting.” The Louisiana Legislature formally condemned the use of the word in 1981.
In 2007, University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban used the word while telling an anecdote, and prompted national news coverage that led to a public apology.