NewsLocal NewsSan Diego News


Community calls for anti-racist comment policy after man calls Public Health Officer 'Aunt Jemima'

Dr. Wilma Wooten at County Sups meeting.png
Posted at 5:42 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 20:48:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A man hurled a racially charged comment at San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten during Tuesday night's County Board of Supervisors meeting. It happened before the board voted 3-2 to keep a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all new county employees. Now, the community is urging the County to adopt an anti-racist comment policy at their chambers.

Tuesday night's San Diego County Supervisors meeting focused on the County's vaccine mandate for new employees. A man who identified himself as Italian American stand-up comedian, Jason Robo, said he was against the mandate. He began his public comment time with an offensive tirade against all supervisors.

Robo called Vice-Chair Nora Vargas "fat," suggested Chair Nathan Fletcher commit suicide, and said, "Lawson-Remer, you're a little monkey. I'd like to see you hang from a tree," trying to catch a laugh from the crowd.

Then, it escalated.

"Wooten, you're [expletive] Aunt Jemima," Robo said about the County's Public Health Officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, who is Black.

It was at that moment that Vice-Chair Vargas stepped in to defend Dr. Wooten and cut off the mic to Robo.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You're not allowed to say that to her," Vargas said. "You are not allowed to talk to her that way!"

At a Wednesday morning press conference, Shane Harris, President of the People's Association of Justice Advocates, denounced Robo's remarks, saying there is a painful history behind the character.

"When they removed her [Aunt Jemima] from the syrup, it was because it was a description of a 'Mammy' which historically is a black woman who was a servant, a slave, and was used to treat their children, the slaveowner's children, better than their own children."

Last year, the Pearl Milling Company announced they would change their logo due to racist stereotypes.

Harris said he is now submitting a policy proposal to the County to prevent future racial comments, and make what Vice-Chair Vargas did policy.

"When a person uses a racial incitement at a public Board of Supervisors meeting during public comment, that their time will be ceded to the Board of Supervisors and their mic would be cut off," Harris said. "There should be a 'three strikes you're out' policy for the chambers because racial incitement should be counted as causing harm or danger to the space."

ABC 10News reached out to Robo for comment on this story. We did not hear back.