Screen shot: https://twitter.com/tomselliott/status/1182261865658949633

 

The town of Oak Park, IL is a suburb of Chicago. Although only 68% of its residents are white, the town’s Board of Trustees consists of only white members.

At a recent meeting, the members were discussing the possibility of rewriting the town’s diversity statement. One of the trustees, Susan Buchanan, introduced new language for their statement, specifically “We work to break down systems of oppression.”

In the long version of the meeting video (at the bottom of the page), two of the trustees, both white males, are heard calmly discussing the new language.

“I hesitate to send the message to our police department that they are a system of oppression,” said fellow trustee Dan Maroney.

This remark clearly upset Buchanan and she erupted.

Buchanan interrupts their conversation. “I am so tired of hearing two white men tell us what systems of oppression are. For Christ’s sake, no! You don’t know what systems of oppression are; you haven’t been oppressed. This is like if you guys wanted to tell us what it’s like to have a menstrual cycle. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Her voice became louder as she spoke. It was punctuated by the pounding of her fist on the table. At times, she received applause. She refused to allow the men to speak and kept repeating variations of the following.

You have been white from birth! Why are you arguing what is a system of oppression? You’ve never experienced one, so shut up! I don’t want to hear from you!

You have not spent a day with dark brown skin and tried to walk through this society!

When the town’s mayor, Anan Abu-Taleba who is a native of Palestine, tried to speak, Buchanan pointed her finger at him and shouted, “You stop it, you are a white male! You stop it! You are a white male! Your skin is light enough!”

One of the men present quietly says, “I think if we reduce these conversations to ‘nobody cares what you have to say because you are a white male,’ I don’t think we’re doing this right.”

Here is the short version of Buchanan’s meltdown.

The local CBS 2 network heard about the meeting and contacted several of the trustees for comment.

“I probably showed more emotion than I should have,” Buchanan told CBS, but “I strongly believe that there is a time when white people, including myself, should stand back.”

Maroney spoke to CBS as well. He said, “People of goodwill can have differences of opinion. I don’t think it’s OK to silence voices when at the heart, there is tremendous agreement.”

And they report that the diversity statement still includes the phrase “systems of oppression, but goes on to define them as including biases such as racism, sexism, and homophobia.

The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher responded to the story. He pointed out, “Oak Park is 68 percent white, and has no minority people on its board of trustees. But it’s got a diversity statement! A super-woke one!”

(A longer version.)