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Colorado House Erupts After GOP Rep. Calls Colleague 'Buckwheat' During Floor Speech

Colorado House Erupts After GOP Rep. Calls Colleague 'Buckwheat' During Floor Speech
The Colorado Channel

It was a mess on the floor of the Colorado House legislature after a Republican Representative used a racial slur to refer to a fellow member of the state legislature during a meeting.

Representative Richard Holtorf openly referred to a fellow colleague as "Buckwheat," causing a ruckus and necessitating the House assembly to go into a temporary recess on Wednesday afternoon.

You can see the moment here:

Holtorf said:

"I'm getting there. Don't worry, Buckwheat. I'm getting there."

He quickly added:

"That's an endearing term, by the way."

Democratic Representative Tom Sullivan—who Holtorf previously told to "get over" the murder of his son at the hands of a mass shooter in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shootingimmediately challenged Holtorf over the slur.

Several people jumped in to keep the situation calm—including Democratic Representative Leslie Herod—before the audio was cut.

Herod and Sullivan shared their thoughts on social media.

Others also were upset by Holtorf's behavior.

After the recess Wednesday, Holtorf again took the podium. He first admonished everybody else on the floor of the legislature before taking any responsibility for his own actions.

Holtorf said:

"I think we all need to consider what we do here and how we talk to each other."
"We all have to do better. I will start with me."
"I apologize if I offended anyone in any way. It is not my intent..."
"If anyone would like to talk with me afterwards, I'd be more than happy to visit with them."

Democratic House Speaker Alec Garnett addressed the chamber Thursday after speaking with Holtorf and members offended by his use of the slur. Holtorf was reportedly reprimanded, but any consequences of his behavior were not made public.

Garnett told Holtorf from the podium Thursday:

"I'm thankful you agree to do your part to reset the decorum of this session.... discriminatory remarks, whether intentionally launched or carelessly said, have absolutely no place in this House."
"Yesterday, the decorum of this institution was grossly breached. I'm sorry to say this is not the first time this session, but I'm speaking today to make sure it is the last."
"...and I heard last night how this one word took a member of this body back to a place that they thought they had outlived... the word took them back to a place that they hoped would never reappear, to feelings of a darker time."

"Buckwheat" as a slur originates from the name of the Black child in the Our Gang serials of the 1930s. The character was explicitly created in the "pickaninny" stereotype—an offensive portrayal of Black children across mainstream media, particularly in the early 20th century.

A "term of endearment" would be a hard bridge to sell.