Topeka State Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, said on Saturday that he was sorry his YouTube video has offended some people, but he told members of the NAACP that he stood by it and would not remove it.
In the video, Otto offers a self-described “RedNeck Rap,” in which he criticizes President Barack Obama. During the video, he is wearing a hat that says, “OPOSSUM the Other Dark Meat.”
The NAACP and several lawmakers have called the video racist and inflammatory.
Otto explained his position and took questions during an hour-long meeting set up by the Topeka branch of the NAACP.
Otto said he meant nothing racial in the video. “I had absolutely no thought of anything racial whatsoever in it,” Otto said.
Otto said the reference to opossum was meant as a joke about what he called his hillbilly ancestry.
But Otto said that he now understood the reference to rednecks and opossum as the other dark meat could be offensive to some people, and that if he did it over again, he would change that part of the video.
“I’m here today because I want to unite and I want to move forward,” Otto said. He said that in the Legislature he has worked on many issues supported by African-American lawmakers, such as an increase in the state minimum wage, and attempts to regulate loan companies. And, he said, he has since posted other videos saying he is proud that the United States has elected an African-American president.
But when asked if he would take down the “Redneck Rap” video, he said he wouldn’t because he has to stand up for who he is.
He also implied he could suffer politically in his southeast Kansas district if he removed the video. “To take it down would have serious ramifications for me,” he said.
Towards the end of the meeting, Rev. Ben Scott, leader of the Topeka branch of the NAACP, said he hoped the meeting would “move us in the right direction.” But he added, “Racism exists. I see nothing here that is going to suggest that it is leaving anytime soon.”