Shelby County Commissioner Britney Thornton, a progressive Democrat, said she was triggered by a white Republican commissioner’s whiteness.
“I own the fact that today your whiteness triggered me because it is actually an identity that I recognize postures you differently from me,” the black commissioner said during a contentious commission meeting. “It comes from privileges that I simply do not have.”
Her jaw-dropping, racist comments came during a debate over whether to spend $5 million in taxpayer money to fund a study that would provide reparations to black citizens of the county.
“The conversation at hand, though, it’s steeped in racial identity. There are just some basic social justice elements to it that we should all be sensitive to,” Thornton said.
The commission, which is controlled by black Democrats, overwhelmingly approved the measure. It’s unclear if the commission will use only money from white taxpayers to fund the study.
“Today has been a really polarized day. Though some of us in our delegation have never lived a single day as a black person though some people in our delegation have never lived a single day as a poor black person that that should prohibit you from being able to see a clear opportunity to right some ills,” she said.
Thornton said she was triggered by Commissioner Amber Mills, a Republican who lives in the Memphis suburbs.
“I tried to have a conversation with a fellow commissioner and she felt a little triggered by my whiteness,” Mills said. “That’s where we are these days. And now we are doing resolutions where certain people get reparations.”
Mills, who was one of three Republicans to vote against the measure, said she was stunned by outrage over her comments.
“It’s come to a point where our skin color — you can’t even have a conversation with people,” she said. “All this is doing is dividing a community in a desperate time when we really. need to unite.”
But the purpose of reparations is not to unite, it’s meant to divide. It’s about taking money from one ethnicity and giving it to another. It’s unconstitutional and it’s immoral.
“If I’m triggered, it is what it is,” Thornton said.