(Editor’s Note: Peoria City Council Member Beth Akeson was under fire recently for some inflammatory Tweets she posted. She sent a message saying she would never support the Black Lives Matter movement because it is divisive, and she said all lives matter. She also posted BLM wants to abolish police, and added there would be less crime if ill-equipped people had fewer children.)
Below is an email I sent to Peoria City Councilwoman At-Large Beth Akeson in regard to the disturbing tweets she posted. Later, a number of concerned African-American citizens including me had a 1½ hour meeting with her.
I suspect by this time you have had multiple emails in regard to your recent tweets. I would like to add my concern to that list. As an elected official and one who was elected at-large, which indicates you represent the entire city of Peoria, I believe your tweets are completely inappropriate.
First of all, I believe your inference to the Black Lives Matter Movement comes from a place of lack of understanding or from a place of bias. Either way it’s clear, if Black lives don’t matter, all lives can’t matter.
The killings of unarmed black men and women should be alarming to all people, in particular to an individual who chooses to hold elective office.
Your support for Donald Trump is of course your choice, but again his racist, misogynist, xenophobic posturing is troubling to many of us. For an elected official to tweet his ridiculous rhetoric regarding “make America great again,” which is coded language for “make America White again,” is equally troubling.
Your other tweets are also very telling for many of your constitutes, especially those of color, about where you stand on positions.
I intend to work very hard to insure Donald Trump will never be elected president, and I plan to work equally as hard to insure you are not re-elected.
The councilwoman’s initial approach to the meeting was of one prepared to lecture and defend her position. She brought along a book and other data which caused the meeting to begin with a lot of tension.
We were very candid about how her tweets were being perceived in the Black community. She stated she had been watching a Fox News forum and it was from that segment she had formed her opinion about the BLM.
She also stated when she tweeted the @realDonaldTrump, she was leaning toward voting for him. Since then, his rhetoric has become more than she can support.
We gave her a “Being Black in America 101” lesson and explained what led up to the creation of BLM. Without this movement, she said, there likely would be an escalation of violence far greater than Dallas.
Born and raised in the ‘50s in Hannibal, Mo., I experienced implicit bias most of my formative years. The “white privilege” status of European-Americans makes it very difficult for them to grasp or understand the struggles of Brown and Black people in this country. In my opinion Mrs. Akeson is no exception to the rule and her explanation was not believable.
As James Baldwin said over 40 years ago, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” This is still the reality today for most people of color.