Rep. Jackson Lee is getting backlash for angry recording because of her race, gender: Supporters

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, could be under heavy fire for an audio recording of her alleged profanity-laced tirade towards a staffer because she is a woman of color, a new report suggests.

The Houston Chronicle pondered if the representative is getting more backlash for the recording because she is a Black woman. 

The reporter quoted experts who said women of color have been held to higher standards than men, suggesting that if Jackson Lee was a man, she would not be on the receiving end of such backlash.

Texas newspaper Current Revolt published audio it obtained of Jackson Lee berating one of her staffers over a task that included profane language.

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In one instance of the exchange, an angry voice purported to be the lawmaker’s said, “When I called Jerome, he only sits up there like a fat [expletive], just talking about what the [expletive] he doesn’t know. Both of y’all are [expletive]-ups… This is the worst [expletive] that I could’ve ever had put together. Two [expletive] big [expletive] children. [Expletive] idiots. Serve no [expletive] purpose.”

Following public outcry at the recording, Jackson Lee expressed regret for the audio. 

The Houston Chronicle article began with an anecdote about University of Houston Professor Nancy Sims playing Jackson Lee’s audio to students in her “women and politics” class. Sims asked her students, “Would you have the same reaction if it was a man?”

“Sims said some of her students thought the audio’s release was just a ‘dirty trick’ played on Jackson Lee, while others thought no boss should speak to their staff like that. And a few said their reaction to the recording would likely have been less strong had Jackson Lee been a man,” the Chronicle wrote.

Other experts said the audio is another example of women in politics being held to a higher standard than men. 

“Women in politics, especially women of color, have often been held to higher standards than their male counterparts have, experts say. The alleged Jackson Lee audio debacle, they argue, is further proof that despite the strides women have made in the workplace, the double standard remains,” the Chronicle wrote. 

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The report quoted Houston city council member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, who endorsed Jackson Lee’s Houston mayoral campaign, saying the audio doesn’t reflect who the congresswoman is at heart. 

“[Jackson Lee] operates in excellence, and … when you are driven to operate in excellence, you expect those that support you to do the same,” Evans-Shabazz said, adding, “And I believe that sometimes, things become quite stressful, and you perhaps may do things that are not really indicative of your character or certainly your heart.”

Professor Sims, who told the Chronicle that “there’s no question that the way [Jackson Lee] spoke to the employees was degrading.” However, Sims added, “I do think we’re holding on to a little different standard than we would if it were a man.”

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The article did note that Jackson Lee has a high staff turnover and is considered one of the “meanest” members of Congress. 

“Jackson Lee has faced accusations of being a difficult boss before. She has routinely been voted one of the ‘meanest’ members of Congress, according to The Washingtonian. And her staff turnover is among the highest for members of Congress, according to Legistorm, which monitors Capitol Hill workforce,” Church wrote. 

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