By Denise Dick
A Broadview Heights woman is accusing state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of using a term that some believe has a racist connotation on a social networking site.
Hagan, D-60th, of Youngstown, used the term “buckwheat” in a Facebook posting Saturday.
He said the posting wasn’t racist, and the attack on him is the tea party’s attempt to make him look bad.
“I have a history of supporting equal rights and civil rights,” Hagan said.
The Facebook discussion started between Hagan and Maggi Cook, of Southwest Ohio, regarding Wisconsin Senate Democrats not showing up at their Statehouse because of their governor’s attempts to remove collective bargaining rights and cut benefits for public workers.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed similar cuts.
Hagan opposes the cuts.
Rachel Mullen Manias, a GOP activist from Broadview Heights, outside Cleveland; a man named Kevin Crowther and others joined the discussion.
The discussion continues, with Manias, Cook and Crowther, who is black, arguing for the need for cuts and Hagan against what’s bee n proposed.
Manias then wrote, “I’m guessing your (sic) from an entrenched area ripe with corruption. I don’t recognize your name as a Cuyahoga County resident, but I’m guessing you’re from the land of Traficant...”
Hagan responds that she’s not making sense. Two others comment and then Crowther returns to the discussion of public unions.
Then Hagan writes, “I ran against Traficant buckwheat ... so take your personal shots, and shove them where the sun don’t shine.”
Hagan said “buckwheat” is a term he’s been using since he was a kid and that it carries no racial connotation for him.
He said he wasn’t aware of the race of any of the people involved in the discussion and that his comment was directed at Manias, not Crowther.
Manias, who e-mailed the discussion to The Vindicator, believes the word is inappropriate in any case.
“I find it completely unacceptable that a career politician finds the word ‘Buckwheat’ to be socially acceptable and appropriate in any situation,” Manias said in an e-mail. “If my children used that racially offensive term towards anyone, I’d wash their mouths out with soap.”
She said her Facebook profile picture is of the Hello Kitty cartoon character.
“If he was directing it to me, how did he know what race I am?” she said in the e-mail. “Also there were African-Americans reading and commenting. How are they to feel? Since Al Sharpton is coming to Akron, maybe he should swing by Youngstown and ask Bob about the appropriateness of the term ‘Buckwheat.’”
Crowther of Liberty Township in Southwest Ohio, believes the term was directed at him.
“I was offended by that,” Crowther said.
He called it an odd and inappropriate thing for Hagan to say.
“I felt it was beneath somebody that we’d elect” to say it, Crowther said.
Hagan said it’s an attempt to make him look bad.
“They are so full of ----,” he said. “They’re so negative, these teabaggers.”
He said that Republicans, as the ones who are cutting programs for the poor and rights for public employees, should be the ones defending themselves.
“I have no apologies for telling her to shove it where the sun don’t shine,” Hagan said. “I’m a liberal. I’m happy to be a liberal. I’m a progressive liberal and I have a record of fighting for equal rights, for civil rights, for women’s rights. The only thing I regret is responding to them at all.”