A southeast Kansas legislator on Thursday said he wasn’t making a racial reference as he sang an anti-President Obama “Redneck Rap” while wearing a hat that said: “OPOSSUM the other Dark Meat.”
State. Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, sang his song on a YouTube video.
At the end of his song, Otto points to his hand-lettered hat and says, “Opossum, the other dark meat. A little greasy, but hey ...”
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said Otto’s video was disturbing and represented a trend of bigoted behavior by Otto.
“If Opossum is the other dark meat, what is the original dark meat he is referring to?” Hensley asked.
Hensley added: “After a nearly three-minute rant about President Obama and his administration, it is only logical to presume that Otto was making reference to the President’s race. It is not only thoughtless, but outrageous for an elected official such as Bill Otto to make this reference to describe any person, let alone the President of the United States.
But Otto said the video had nothing to do with race.
“I don’t see how a reasonable thinking person could think that,” he said.
“Rednecks eat possum. The possums are associated with rednecks,” said Otto.
Hensley, however, said the video is one of several instances when Otto has crossed the line.
Hensley said that Otto made a remark to Patrick Woods, who is African-American and works for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, about shooting Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby, who also is African-American.
Otto said he didn’t say that, but instead told Woods he wanted to see Bremby fired. Otto said he has had disputes with Bremby over regulation of day care centers, which is under KDHE’s authority.
Woods, however, said the incident occurred when he and Otto were walking in the tunnel between the Capitol and Docking Building.
Woods said Otto approached him. “He said he almost pulled out his gun and shot me because he mistook me for Bremby,” Woods said. Woods said he didn’t feel threatened but thought it was a “very inappropriate joke.”
Woods said he thought it peculiar that Otto would mistake him for Bremby. Woods is 29, Bremby in his 60s.
“It’s not lost on me that we’re both African-American and under 9 feet tall,” he said.