Former Florida Dem Leader Accused of Pretending to be Asian

Maybe we'll finally achieve that colorblind society when all the white people insist that they're members of minority groups.


The Democratic Women’s Club of Upper Pinellas celebrated 75 years of giving Democratic women a voice Aug. 29.

The club is the oldest continually active Democratic women’s club in the nation. During the celebration luncheon at the Royal Palms in Largo Aug. 29, the women honored its past leaders and its history. 

The club’s influence extends beyond the borders of Pinellas County, said B.J. Star, president from 2004 to 2005.

Star became president of the West Pinellas National Organization for Women.

That's where the problems begin.

NOW members told The Daily Beast they were shocked when BJ Star, a current board member, identified herself as Asian-American in campaign materials. Star, born Barbara Bencsik, had never identified herself as such in previous campaigns, and lists herself as white in voter registrations dating back to 1984. Multiple members said Star had not identified herself as a woman of color in past conversations about race or attended special meetings designed for women of color in NOW. 

Despite this, Star’s bio on the candidates’ website now states that she intends to build NOW’s diversity membership “as Asian-American.”

Bold choice. Claiming to be Cherokee is just too easy mode. Just ask Liz Warren. Claiming to be Jewish doesn't get you minority status. Claiming to be Latino would probably have been the more sensible move. But claiming to be Asian is an interesting lane.

“You can’t wear race like lipstick—one day you want to be red, one day you want to be black, one day you want to be brown,” said Triana Arnold-James, a Black woman and NOW member who is also running for the board. “I don’t appreciate her trying to use that to really keep true women of color out of leadership roles.”

True women of color.

“BJ is saying she’s an Asian American, but has she really walked in my shoes?” she added. “Has she been spit upon, like I have? Has she been denied jobs because her name sounds funny? I highly doubt it.” 

If being spit on is what it takes...

 A NOW member named Lakey Love is also running out of Florida, effectively challenging Star for the position. If Star identifies as a woman of color, she could be slotted into the extra board seat even if she loses her campaign.

It's all about the affirmative action.

After months of dealing with allegations of racism at NOW, members said this latest incident made them doubt that the organization could truly change.

Come on guys, if that's not change, I don't know what is.


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