Mount Prospect library trustees defend Gens after she used racial slur
Mount Prospect Public Library trustees came to the defense of library Trustee Terri Gens, whose use of a racial slur during a Daily Herald endorsement interview led to calls from a Mount Prospect mayoral candidate for her to withdraw from the library board.
Gens, one of four candidates for three Mount Prospect trustee seats, uttered the term while expressing her outrage that it was used against a Prospect High School student.
At Thursday's library board committee of the whole meeting, both members of the public and her fellow library trustees spoke of her commitment to social justice and her anti-racism work and said they felt the remark was taken out of context.
A member of the public, Elizabeth LaPlante, said Gens made the remark to point to the existence of racism in Mount Prospect.
"My high school daughter has frequently told us, my husband and I, how often her classmates at Prospect High School use this word very casually and frequently in conversations in a pointed racist manner," she said.
She said Gens encouraged her daughter and her friends, some of whom have been racially bullied, to speak at the village board meetings against the police patch.
Library board vice-president Michael Duebner said, "We listen to all voices and continue to work toward equity and inclusion, and Terri has been an active proponent of the library's initiatives toward that goal."
Gens, who is the board's secretary, said she has apologized, but was disturbed by the "baseless attacks by my opponent and a local candidate. I think most disturbing, they do not even seem fazed about the fact that our children are being harassed with racist words like this in our schools."
She added, "So what are we going to do about it? Should I be quiet and not speak up? I don't think I can do that."