U-46 board member criticized over Black History Month Facebook post
An Elgin Area School District U-46 board member is under fire from a colleague and others over a Facebook post earlier this month she made to mark Black History Month.
And further criticism could come tonight when the board meets in Elgin.
The Feb. 1 post by school board member Jeanette Ward quotes author Jason L. Riley's book "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed."
The quote states, in part, "Blacks have become their own worst enemy, and liberal leaders do not help matters by blaming self-inflicted wounds on whites or 'society.' The notion that racism is holding back blacks as a group, or that better black outcomes cannot be expected until racism has been vanquished, is a dodge. And encouraging blacks to look to politicians to solve their problems does them a disservice."
Ward, who is white, said the post on the Facebook page that identifies her as a U-46 board member was intended to offer a perspective on Black History Month that is not usually given.
"I was surprised at the vitriol," Ward said Sunday of the response to her post, which has been attacked as offensive and racist on the Facebook page and elsewhere.
Among the critics are fellow U-46 board member Traci O'Neal Ellis and Elgin City Council member Tish Powell, who chided Ward for marginalizing black Americans rather than celebrating their achievements.
"I was really shocked," Ellis said of the post. "I was extremely shocked that she used her official capacity as a U-46 school board member to promote that discredited rhetoric."
She said Ward's posting is offensive to the black community because it ignores the issue of systemic racism against minorities and its impact.
"To lob that bomb at the black community in honor of Black History Month is disingenuous, mean spirited, extremely divisive and does nothing to move us forward together as a U-46 community," Ellis said.
Ward said not all of the feedback has been negative. She said she also has received support, in particular from a black woman on whose radio talk show she was scheduled to appear Sunday night.
Ellis said she expects other critics of Ward's post to come speak out Monday when the U-46 school board meets at 6 p.m. at the Educational Services Center, 355 E. Chicago St., Elgin.
"People who support me have been trying to get their viewpoint, to come to the board meeting as well. So it could be an interesting board meeting," Ward said.