School board member kicks off Black History Month by telling blacks they are 'their own worst enemy'
Elgin School Board member Jeanette Ward -- Elgin School Board Facebook

An Illinois school board member is under fire for kicking off Black History Month by posting a racist message on the board's official Facebook page, the Daily Herald reports.


Elgin Area School District U-46 board member Jeanette Ward, wrote the post on Feb. 1 that began with the line: "Blacks have become their own worst enemy, and liberal leaders do not help matters by blaming self-inflicted wounds on whites or 'society.'"

Ward was quoting from author Jason L. Riley's book "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed."

Ward's post continued, "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."

At a Monday night board meeting, speakers tore into Ward's post, calling it "racist speech" and labeling it as "irresponsible," particularly on the first day of  Black History Month.

"When we honor Black History Month, we ought to know what black history is all about," stated Myrna Becker before adding that she was appalled by what she read.

According to Ward, who is white,  she felt she was offering different perspective on Black History Month.

Danise Habun, a member of the Elgin Human Relations Commission, disagreed.

"There was nothing respectful toward or celebratory of Black History Month contained in the passage posted by Ms. Ward," Habun said. "If her words and the quoted passage from the book is indeed to offer a fresh perspective, it appears as if there has been a failure to communicate. It continues to blame the victim, and ignores institutionalized racism. As an official elected to represent all members of the U-46 school district, Ms. Ward is to be held to a high standard of behavior and conduct."

 Ward refused to back down following the public comments, but did state that the entire board should not be held accountable for what she wrote.

She also defended the post by pointing out that original author Jason Riley is black.

"I want all people to succeed. There is one race -- the human race. Did I not honor that African-American author by quoting him? I stand by quoting Jason L. Riley," she said.