Riordan protest canceled because ‘black’ girl white

By WND Staff

Black civil-rights activists canceled plans for a protest after discovering a child insulted by California Education Secretary Richard Riordan was not African-American as originally believed, but a blonde, white girl.

In an incident captured on video [Requires Real Player], Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor, stunned participants in a promotional event July 1 at the Santa Barbara library by jokingly telling a 6-year-old her name, Isis, meant “stupid dirty girl.”

Alice Huffman, president of the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday that Riordan “is not suitable to lead education in our state” and should be removed.

Democratic state Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally called on Riordan to step down, telling the San Jose Mercury News the child was a “little African-American girl.”

“Would he (Riordan) have done that to a white girl?” Dymally asked.

But the lawmaker reversed himself and canceled a planned civil-rights demonstration after finding out the girl is white.

“Mayor Richard Riordan has extended another apology … and expressed his regret to me by way of a Los Angeles bishop,” Dymally said in a statement. “To err is human; to forgive is divine. I have requested a meeting with Secretary Riordan to further discuss the issue.”

But Dymally’s sudden reversal prompted a reaction of disbelief from the girl’s mother, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“If he feels the man should step down, why does it matter if my daughter is white?” Trinity Lila of Goleta said in an interview with the paper.

Lila said Riordan should probably step down but isn’t demanding he do so.

“I let my daughter go to story hour and figured she’d be safe in a room full of librarians and parents and other children and the secretary of education,” Lila told the Bee.

“If I was in the room, I would have defended her. But she did OK without me. I’m really proud of her for standing up for herself. She’s OK. She’s moved on. It’s not like I’m going to sue to pay her therapy bills.”

The incident began with Isis D’Luciano seated next to Riordan along with a few dozen children.

“Did you know that my name actually means an Egyptian goddess?” she said with noticeable pride in her voice, according to the Bee.

Riordan, apparently without hearing the full question, answered: “It means stupid, dirty girl.”

The children giggled and groaned before Isis repeated that her name was that of a goddess.

“Hey, that’s nifty,” said Riordan, who issued a statement a short time later saying he “teased” her and “immediately apologized … for misunderstanding.”

Lila said her daughter didn’t correct Riordan because “she told me she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I got the impression she just didn’t think he was very bright.”

Kevin Spillane, political director for Riordan’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign, said he doesn’t think Riordan should or would resign.

“Why should a man who has a lifetime of doing charitable work for children resign over one unfortunate remark that he quickly apologized for?” Spillane asked.

“And for Mervyn Dymally to try to make political hay by shamelessly playing the race card in this is ridiculous. Richard Riordan has done more for black children than Mervyn Dymally can ever dream of,” he said.

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