Racial taunts break up city meeting over white woman honored for Black History Month

Community Volunteer Avis Swenson
Community Volunteer Avis Swenson

In a case of white guilt gone wild, a city meeting sank into racial name-calling when the mayor blasted a Black History honoree’s being white.

And when all the shouting was over, honoree Avis Swenson, a community volunteer, left the Deerfield Beach, Fla. City Commission meeting in tears, only to face taunting in the parking lot.

According to the Sun-Sentinel’s report Wednesday, the trouble started when Mayor Jean Robb, who is white, declared that she will boycott the city’s Black Heritage and Women’s History Month banquet this Saturday.

She joined a number of black residents who also refused to attend the event because one of the six award recipients is white.  The recipients were chosen by staffers for the city of about 75,000.

The banquet’s master of ceremonies, Vice Mayor Ben Preston, who is black, criticized the mayor, saying, “Service has no color.”

“Color should not enter into this thing at all … We’re still torn along these lines … which suggests we haven’t made as much progress as we think,” Preston said.  “You divide this community or you accept responsibility to bring it together.”

Commissioner Bill Ganz called Robb a “shameless hypocrite,” since last year’s event also honored a white woman.

Robb raised her voice at the rebukes.

“I resent being called a racist or the fact I am using the black community to get across a political point,” she said.

“I’m siding with the members of the minority community … How dare you have attacked me in that manner.”

Swenson cried, “I am a person,” in tears as she left the meeting.  Observers told the Sun-Sentinel they saw two black women taunt Swenson in the parking lot, when Swenson responded, “I am a woman.  It’s a shame you cannot see that.”

A deputy escorted her to her car.

Apparently, in Deerfield Beach, being a woman isn’t enough to earn an award at an event celebrating—women’s history.

When white political figures attack others for simply being white, could that hyper-sensitive white guilt be a worse form of racism than the kind they’re fighting against?


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