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Lawmaker apologizes for use of racial slurs

March 2, 2013
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii Rep. Faye Hanohano has apologized on the House floor for offending people by using racial slurs to express disapproval of art in her office.

The Democratic lawmaker apologized Thursday, the same day the Honolulu Star-Advertiser published the remarks, which included slurs disparaging white, Japanese and Chinese people.

Hanohano, an outspoken advocate of indigenous issues, also used the opportunity to affirm the importance of supporting Native Hawaiian artists and issues.

"I am an honest and straight-speaking woman whom descends from (a) long line of proud leaders and warriors from Puna of Hawaii island," Hanohano said at the beginning of her apology, which she delivered in both English and Hawaiian. She spoke during the portion of the House session dedicated to the Hawaiian word of the day, which Hanohano said was "mihi," meaning apology.

Hanohano went on to apologize for her remarks and to say that she is committed to representing all people in the state.

Eva Laird Smith, executive director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, said exhibit specialists were hanging paintings in Hanohano's office Wednesday when the lawmaker used racial epithets to express her displeasure that the work wasn't completed by Native Hawaiians.

She says the artwork in Hanohano's office depicts nature scenes in Hawaii and was approved by the representative's office manager before exhibit specialists sought to install it.



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