Urbana lawmaker says he’s ‘darker’ than members of black caucus

A state lawmaker from Urbana said in a Facebook post that he is “darker” than most members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and was made fun of growing up, including being called a “greasy Italian.”

Resolutions are pending in both the House and Senate to declare racism a public health crisis.

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In response to the House resolution, state Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, on his Facebook page posted a photo of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus members on June 2 and commented, “I am darker than MOST of the people in this picture.”

He said in his childhood, he was made fun of for his skin color and name, beat up and spit on. He was also told he didn’t belong here in this country, according to the post.

When asked about the post Wednesday by the Dayton Daily News, Vitale said: “Do you have any idea about where I grew up or my past history? Look, their resolution is about black and brown people. I’m a brown person. I have a varied opinion on it. I don’t disagree that there are problems in our society. The question is how do we solve them.”

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When asked about the post, House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, said, “I’m not Rep. Vitale and obviously I’m not black so I really can’t tell you how that comment is taken.” He noted that members of the OLBC talked to Vitale.

Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, said the discussion didn’t yield a reason for Vitale’s post.

“I will let you know why he did it: It’s an undermining of notion that racism exists,” Howse said.

In videos and postings to Facebook, Vitale has heavily criticized Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton for their handling of the coronavirus crisis and the media for its coverage.

Vitale refers to them as the “Trio of Terror” and gives them nicknames: Dictator DeWine, Hustler Husted and Actin’ Acton. He has also called Acton “an unelected globalist.”

Howie Biegelman, executive director of the Ohio Jewish Communities, said that globalist can be a code word for Jewish. Acton is Jewish.

Biegelman said rhetoric by some public officials is concerning.

When Acton announced her resignation on Thursday, Vitale posted: “I am hearing she is still on the tax payer dime but Actin’ Acton has resigned as Health Director. I say NOT good enough! 1 down, 2 to go of the Terrible Tyrannical Trio!”

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