Sup. Vargas Takes Stand as Speaker Spews Racism, Hate at County Leaders During Meeting

Supervisor Nora Vargas is being praised for speaking out against hate and the need to be an ally in hateful situations.

NBC Universal, Inc.

There was a heated exchange at Tuesday's San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting that included racist and body-shaming comments hurled at county leaders.

Supervisor Nora Vargas was one of the county leaders on the receiving end of those comments made by Jason Robo.

“You should resign. Vargas, I can’t wait for your arteries to clog. They’re not doing it fast enough,” Robo said. “And [Supervisor Nathan Fletcher] you should kill yourself.”

For months, there have been similar vile statements during public comment periods on vaccine mandates that have gone viral. But Tuesday’s racist comment directed at San Diego’s Black public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, crossed the line for Vargas.

Vargas said this isn’t the first time Robo has body shamed her, but when he called Dr. Wooten Aunt Jemima -- a decades-old black caricature based on a racial stereotype -- Vargas said she had to be an ally in that moment.

“[County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer ], you’re a little monkey, as I like to call you. I’d like to see you hang from a tree. And then Wooten, you’re a f***ing Aunt Jemima and yeah, syrup won’t sweeten or cause your…”

Vargas interrupted Robo and told him to apologize.

“I’m sorry excuse me, you’re not allowed to say that to her,” Vargas said.
“Absolutely not, not under my f***ing watch.”

Robo is a self-proclaimed “rebel comic” who ran unsuccessfully for city council in Blue Lake California in 2020. When Asked Wednesday why not attack the county leader's policies versus spread hateful, indefensible comments, Robo blamed the media and the Board of Supervisors for not taking anti-vaxxers more seriously.

“For years, my mom, Michelle Obama has said you know, ‘They go low, you go high,’ and I have always believed that,” Vargas said. “I do believe in my heart, if you’re sitting there when somebody is spewing out all these racist things and you don’t do anything about it, you’re just as complicit as the person saying it. And the people hackling in the back, to me was like - how is this happening in 2021.”

Chair Nathan Fletcher, who was out of the room during the rant, came back to call out the racist and inappropriate remarks.

“Then folks wonder why no one is listening. Because we’re not engaging in substantive; some of you have legitimate points and you have fair points that deserve to be heard, but they are completely debased and completely erased with this for-fun-or-sport mindset about, 'How racist can I be?'”

On Wednesday, a group of anti-vaxxers held a vaccine mandate protest outside the County Administration Building.

Vargas said communities should be engaged and give perspectives, but she feels what has been lost is the civility of real discourse.

“They saw it in our president and so they’re modeling what they think is OK, and as a leader and as a representative, I need to say no it’s not,” Vargas said. “It’s not gonna happen on my watch.”

Robo tells NBC 7, he doesn't think he owes anyone an apology. He said he will continue to make public comments, but will probably not make racist comments in the future.

Contact Us