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School board member says US flag 'nothing more than toilet paper to me.' It doesn't go over well.

A school board member in Elgin, Illinois, has stated that the U.S. flag means "nothing more than toilet paper to me." She was defending the NFL players who take a knee in protest during the national anthem. Now, she's feeling the heat. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Who said it?

  • Traci O'Neal Ellis — a Board of Education member of School District U46 in Elgin, Illinois — wrote on her personal Facebook page that the American flag "means nothing more than toilet paper to me."
  • She was defending the NFL players who take a knee in protest during the national anthem, the Elgin Courier-News reported.
  • O'Neal Ellis said that she's "proud to stand with the sons of bitches on the field today," the Illinois Family Institute reported, a comment referring to President Donald Trump's remarks last Friday saying team owners should fire "son of a bitch" players who disrespect the anthem.
  • She also called Trump's remarks "nothing more than continued white nationalism at its finest," the Courier-News said.

What was the reaction to her comments?

  • A screenshot of O'Neal Ellis' post appeared on some Elgin-area Facebook pages, the paper said, which resulted in support for her as well as criticism.
  • Fellow school board member Jeanette Ward called O'Neal Ellis' comments "despicable," the Courier-News reported, citing a statement on Ward's school board page.
  • "I was taken aback that she would say that, even though it is consistent with things she's said in the past," Ward told the paper Wednesday. "To say [the U.S. flag is] nothing more than toilet paper, I'm appalled."
  • O'Neal Ellis added to the Courier-News Wednesday that she's received "hateful, mean-spirited, scary" reactions from community members for her flag comment.

Did O'Neal Ellis apologize for what she wrote?

  • Nope. "I cannot be embarrassed by righteous truth," she wrote Tuesday on her school board Facebook page. "... my experience in America is vastly different than that of white people. This is true for most people of color. Unfortunately, many people are arrogant enough to deny the lived experiences of black people."
  • O'Neal Ellis — calling herself "an expert on black life in America" — added that the U.S. flag as a symbol of freedom and justice is a "blatant lie for black folks" due to their endurance of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation, as well as the struggle for civil rights and present injustices.
  • "I could then speak about the racism my family has personally experienced, along with the painful sting of racism I personally have experienced, as well as my friends and people I love," she also wrote. "These are the lived experiences that I refuse to give ANYONE the audacity to deny."
  • O'Neal Ellis added that while she holds the "deepest respect" for veterans and the military, that doesn't mean she has to revere "a false symbol of hope," presumably referring to the flag.
  • "And to conflate the protest happening in the NFL with disrespect for the flag is disingenuous at its best and downright ignorant at its worst," she added. "Our protests have nothing to do with the flag and everything to do with the right to live and live peacefully without fear ..."

What's next?

  • Ward told the paper it wouldn't surprise her if residents attended the next school board meeting and told O'Neal Ellis to step down.
  • "The remedy for that is elections," Ward noted to the Courier-News. "If people are not happy about this, the remedy is the elections in 2019, if she chooses to run again."
  • An online petition is circulating to get O'Neal Ellis removed from the board.

(H/T: EAGNews)

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