Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther recently tweeted that “Chinese students should be banned from all Texas universities” was met with criticism from a state representative who said the remarks were repugnant and could incite violence.
“No more Communists,” the tweet read.
Luther gained national attention in 2020 when she was arrested after refusing to close her salon in violation of Governor Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 orders designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Another tweet, referring to the Chinese Communist Party, read, “Texas taxpayers should not support the next generation of CCP leaders.” Another says: “It makes sense: CCP members should not come to our schools.”
Luther is running for House District 62, a Sherman District seat, where she challenges incumbent Republican Rep. Reggie Smith in the March primary. She previously ran for the Texas Senate.
Jin Woo, a Democrat from Houston, said her remarks were “ignorant, hateful, and incite violence not only against Chinese Americans, but against all Asian Americans.” His office shared a screenshot of the tweet saying “Chinese students should be banned from all Texas universities,” which has since been deleted. Relevant tweets are still posted on Luther’s account.
Hate crimes against Asians increased more than 70% in 2020, with the FBI reporting 279 hate crimes, according to NBC News.
“My parents came here as Chinese students,” Wu said in a statement released Friday. My wife’s parents came here as Chinese students. Thousands upon thousands of proud Texans came here as Chinese students. Like my family, these Texans also chose to use their talents and gain knowledge here rather than going back to their home countries. In my family alone, these former Chinese students have become nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and physicists. There is no doubt that the “Chinese Students” have made Texas and this nation a better place through their hard work and perseverance.”
Wu added, “The occasional conflation of all Chinese students in America with actual registered members of the ruling party in the People’s Republic of China is not only ignorance of an extreme nature, but also the kind of rhetoric that drives hate crimes against Asians. Luther’s racist statement not only paints a target on The emergence of Chinese citizens studying in America, but it categorizes and targets anyone who looks or appears vaguely Asian as a potential enemy.”
When reached for comment, Luther said she had not seen Wu’s statement. She said her tweet was made clear by her campaign to indicate that she was referring to “people who live outside the United States who get scholarships to go to Texas schools when they live in communist China.”
“I am saying that people from China now, communist China, should not be given free scholarships and money to attend Texas schools,” she said. “But it is clearly not Chinese Americans and not people who were born here.”
When asked why, Luther said, “Because they are Communists.”
Luther dismissed the idea that it was racist when I read part of Wu’s statement.
“As far as anyone would think I’m a racist, I’ve been a Spanish teacher for 13 years and in my salon when I opened it, I was the only white person working there out of 19,” she said. “So, calling me racist is absurd. … I do not agree with communist thought, and I do not want our country to be run, or I do not want our country to be affected by any communism.”
This story was originally published January 7, 2022 4:39 pm.