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Brooklyn School Board Member Sparks Outrage, Community Demands She Resign After Using Racial Slur Against Asians

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Brooklyn school board member is in the hot seat for using a racial slur to refer to the Asian American community.

Tuesday night, at a heated public meeting, more than 100 people rallied for her to resign – but what she did next angered them even more.

"We will stand up for them! Enough is enough! Resign!" city councilman Chaim Deutsch said.

The school board meeting in Gravesend got out of control.

Jackie Cody
Jackie Cody (Credit: Lina Chen)

Asian Americans and Councilman Deutsch demanded Jackie Cody leave office.

"Throw me out!" Deutsch shouted. "When someone says something that is hurtful to an individual, that person needs to be suspended!"

Cody was elected to serve on Community Education Council 22. Back in September, in an online forum for school leaders, she wrote the following about the mayor's plan to eliminate standardized tests for specialized high schools:

"To be blunt, certain whites and certain yellow folks on this list-serv continue to focus on a very narrow view… what they're advocating for is damaging to white and yellow children as well."

Fellow council member Yiatin Chu was in the list-serv.

"I couldn't believe that another parent leader would use a racial slur in a forum being seen by over 150 parent leaders across the city," Chu said.

"There is a lot of ugly history behind the use of the term 'yellow,'" Chu added. "The term yellow peril in the 19th century which lead to the Exclusion Act which prevented anyone from China from immigrating to the U.S."

Tuesday night, Chu addressed Cody, whose website shows she has a doctorate in education. Cody eventually apologized.

"All I have to say is I sincerely apologize for offending the East Asian community, I had no idea that the term that I used was offensive," Cody claimed.

Community leaders felt it was insincere and not enough.

"What are we teaching our kids?" Community Education Councilmember Lucas Liu said. "The chancellor has not even stepped up and denounced this use of racism."

CBS2 wanted to ask the schools chancellor what he thought of the remarks and whether he's asked Cody to resign. He wouldn't make himself available for an on-camera interview. Instead a spokesperson replied through email.

She said the department is "deeply disappointed" by this "completely unacceptable remark" and that the chancellor has limited oversight over the school board.

To the Asian American community, it's being viewed as another excuse and another insult.

Cody did not return CBS2's calls or e-mails for this story. The Brooklyn borough president told CBS2 he does not support the language she used and plans to speak with Cody directly.

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