Letter to the Editor

I have a sick sense in the pit of my stomach as we challenge yet another minority member of a public Paris board for another tiny offense.

We censured a council member, Mr. Benny Plata, for stating that anyone who does not like America can leave on social media, yet we held an event where it was OK to scream “USA” and show patriotism. At the supposedly non-partisan event, a non-white past president was criticized for not being a patriot. To me, this is a similar comment to the one that Mr. Plata made. Former President Barack Obama would probably take offense to the insinuation.

Now, there is an effort to try to oust Dr. A.J. Hashmi for contacting the press about a PEDC matter, though Mr. Clayton Pilgrim also has aired this issue through The Paris News today.

We need to be cautious in these racially divided times to allow minority public board members equal opportunities. This can include the equal opportunity to be “canceled” for making a small mistake, but I am uneasy that the two members we have scrutinized happen to be minorities.

The thing about racism or sexism is that the slights are often imperceptible, where you never know for sure if racism or an inadvertent bias is playing a role. Something feels off to me here. I hope that I am wrong, but I recommend caution as we penalize minority members for very small slights while hosting events where non-minority public servants say and do some of the same things. It seems like the two minority members were held to a different standard regarding what is acceptable behavior.

Michele Hellmann


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