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Yes, Usha Chilukuri is an Indian, But Not That Indian: Ohio Republican Senate Candidate Lays Racism Charge Against Cartoon

Yes, Usha Chilukuri is an Indian, But Not That Indian: Ohio Republican Senate Candidate Lays Racism Charge Against Cartoon

  • J.D. Vance’s chief strategist Jai Chabria called on the Cleveland Plain Dealer which published the cartoon referencing the candidate's wife's ethnicity to “condemn their actions immediately."

In this election season, everyone is on the edge and a tad touchy. Even a benign political cartoon can explode into a controversy, with charges of racism thrown around with abandon.

The latest one involves the wife of Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance who is in a tight contest with Democrat Tim Ryan. A Controversy has erupted over a cartoon that appeared in Cleveland Plain Dealer depicting Vance, while debating his opponent, saying, “Only Indians name change I support is my wife’s to ‘Senator J.D. Vance’s Spouse.’”

Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance and his wife Usha Chilukuri Vance.

Here’s the context: Vance is married to Indian American Usha Chilukuri whom he met while they were at Yale Law School. Her impressive resume includes clerking for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

During the primaries, Vance attacked his Republican opponent state Sen. Matt Dolan, who owns the Major League Baseball team Cleveland Indians, agreeing to change the team name to Cleveland Guardians, after pressure from Native American communities who regard the name to be racist. In an interview with Fox News in January, Vance said, “When the woke mob came after the Cleveland Indians, he bent the knee and changed their name.”

Is the Vance campaign justified in its outrage? Is the cartoon really racist? The answers depend on which end of the political spectrum one is.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which endorsed Tim Ryan, published the cartoon by Jeff Darcy along with a short write-up in which the cartoonist wrote, “Don’t expect to see J.D. Vance sporting any Cleveland Guardians garb,” alluding to the Republican’s close ties with California where is worked and made his fortune, including writing the best-selling memoir “Hilly Billy Elegy,” which became a popular Netflix series. To rub it in, he added, “He’s more likely to be in San Francisco Giants gear.”

Darcy prefaced his comment by saying, “While the Cleveland Baseball team’s name change didn’t come up in the first debate between Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance, it had in a primary debate and Fox News interview when Vance hit former opponent Matt Dolan, whose family owns the team, over the name change. Vance had called out the Dolan’s for weakness giving into the ‘woke mob.’”

Immediately after the publication of the cartoon and comment, Vance’s chief strategist Jai Chabria, an Indian American, called on the Plain Dealer to “condemn their actions immediately, or perhaps this racism is OK because it’s against a Republican.”

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The statement said, “I’m a first-generation Indian American and my immigrant parents taught me to love this country as much as they do, which is why I’ve never been one to bring race into the conversation,” and added, “However, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s woke editors published a cartoon that explicitly encourages bigotry against Indian women by perpetuating a stereotype.”

That’s that.

Is the Vance campaign justified in its outrage? Is the cartoon really racist? The answers depend on which end of the political spectrum one is. But Vance’s position on the baseball team rechristening does raise some chuckles considering that he doesn’t find any problem with the team derisively named after “Indians,” who are not really Indians while being married to an Indian, who is the real deal. It’s a pickle, really.

Top image, courtesy cleveland.com)

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