Politics

White councilwoman branded racist at meeting after referring to black counsellor as ‘ghetto’


A white councilwoman from Michigan has been forced to apologize after she branded the actions of the black chairwoman as ‘ghetto’ during a six hour meeting Wednesday.

Eva Worthing, who sits on the Flint City Council, was heard making the remark during a meeting, which then quickly descended into chaos. 

The argument began around the four-hour mark, as council members discussed the technicalities of the council meeting and whether a resolution could be amended.

Some council members suggested that making an amendment to the meeting would put the agenda out of order, but councilor Worthing said that ‘a motion is always in order.’

Flint, Michigan Councilwoman Eva Worthing got into an argument with the chair of the city council meeting calling her 'ghetto'

Flint, Michigan Councilwoman Eva Worthing got into an argument with the chair of the city council meeting calling her ‘ghetto’

Worthing used word after become frustrated with chair Jerri Winfrey-Carter, who is black

Worthing used word after become frustrated with chair Jerri Winfrey-Carter, who is black

The exchange occurred about four hours into a lengthy six hour city council meeting

The exchange occurred about four hours into a lengthy six hour city council meeting 

The black Chairwoman, Jerri Winfrey-Carter, the asked ‘Why are we amending this motion?’ 

‘Because we can,’ Worthing responded immediately. 

The remark and general tone then generated further heated responses, some of which were out of the range of the microphone. 

‘You know what, don’t get funny up in here, because I’ll turn this out,’ Winfrey-Carter said. 

Worthing is said to have made a comment that although not picked up by the microphones was then repeated by fellow Council member Tonya Burns who responded: ‘Really? That’s a racist term. Don’t say ‘ghetto.”

A number of council members then voiced their offense at Worthing’s remark. 

Fellow Council member Tonya Burns then criticized Worthing saying her use of the word 'ghetto' was racist

Fellow Council member Tonya Burns then criticized Worthing saying her use of the word ‘ghetto’ was racist 

‘Point of information, madam chair. I think it is a personal attack to say ‘getting ghetto,’ Burns said.

Worthing was then given a warning by Winfrey-Carter, which she then attempted to appeal. 

‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not here to play. I am here to be fair. I’m want to hear from all of my colleagues…. Everybody is going to have a chance to speak.’

Winfrey-Carter chastised ‘all of the ad libs from Councilwoman Worthing, it’s unnecessary. And to have said what she said was unnecessary… she was out of order, point blank.’

But Worthing did not back down: ‘First of all, we shouldn’t even be having this discussion. The motion should have been seconded, discussed and voted on. You chose to threaten me in some way, so I thought that was inappropriate, Ms. Winfrey-Carter, so if you had not said there would have been no reaction. When you’re a chair, you should be professional and treat everyone the same.’ 

Worthing defended herself saying that other members on the council had 'abused' her over the four-and-half-years she has been on the council

Worthing defended herself saying that other members on the council had ‘abused’ her over the four-and-half-years she has been on the council

Worthing posted an apology on her Facebook page but still suggested that she should be the one who who should be apologized to

Worthing posted an apology on her Facebook page but still suggested that she should be the one who who should be apologized to

Worthing, who is a school teacher said she felt embarrassed. 'I was actually just shocked it came out of my mouth in the first place. I don't normally talked that way. It was just frustration, pure frustration,' she said.

Worthing, who is a school teacher said she felt embarrassed. ‘I was actually just shocked it came out of my mouth in the first place. I don’t normally talked that way. It was just frustration, pure frustration,’ she said.

Then other council members jumped in to voice their opinions on Worthing’s use of the word ‘ghetto’.

‘To me, it’s got some racial overtones. You can laugh, Ms. Worthing, but I can come up with some sure names for your neighborhood,’ Councilman Eric Mays, who is also black, said.  

Once again, Worthing defended herself saying that Mays had once called her a ‘nasty woman’ referring to her race.

‘We take offense to you calling us ghetto. Now I’m going to assure you, I’m going to look up some words and call you something. I don’t want to call you trailer-nothing, but I will,’ Mays said.

‘My reputation is, when you go low once, I go low two, three times,’ Mays added. ‘And the sooner that council people learn this… I keep score.’ 

But the damage had been done and more council members then piled on to Worthing’s use of ‘ghetto’.

Flint, Michigan City Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter is seen in photos from her campaign pages

Flint, Michigan City Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter is seen in photos from her campaign pages

‘I am offended, and appalled, when you speak to ‘ghetto’ and it’s seven black people here, that’s a problem,’ Burns said. 

‘We have to be careful, because there is no superiority in any race, we are all equal here.’

‘You teach children, and you’re comfortable using ‘ghetto’?’ Burns added nothing Worthing’s day job.

Worthing did not react well and likened Burns’ comment to a personal attack. 

Chair Winfrey-Carter interjected once again: ‘You’ve been giving personal attacks all evening, so let her finish with her statement.’

Worthing could take no more.

‘I am going to excuse myself, madam chair, this is not fair,’ before getting up and leaving the meeting. 

Worthing later apologized saying she was sorry for her comment. 

‘I was actually just shocked it came out of my mouth in the first place. I don’t normally talked that way. It was just frustration, pure frustration,’ she said. 

‘It was a knee-jerk reaction. I said, ‘That’s ghetto’ under my breath,’ Worthing said to MLive said.

Worthing also said that she was the one who deserved an apology.

‘I have been through so much abuse on this council. I have never been apologized to,’ Worthing said to Fox News.

She also  accused Burns of calling her a racist and a liar.

‘Why is this behavior allowed? It is about race. All three white women on this new council have had their race pointed out by Eric Mays. There was no story and there was no apology,’ Worthing said.

‘As leaders, we should be modeling the behavior that we want to see in our city. And unfortunately, that has yet to happen in the four years that I have been on council,’ she said.

In a Facebook statement, Worthing claimed that she had been subjected to derogatory comments by others on the council for years.

‘I have been called a nasty white woman, my children and occupation have been brought up and my white privilege has been mentioned solely to degrade my opinions,’ her statement reads. 

‘I am very sorry for my choice of words. Those who know my heart know I would NEVER ever use someone’s race to degrade them. In this case, I said it because I was threatened in a very unprofessional manner by Jerri Winfrey-Carter. I used this term to describe actions by Carter that I found extremely unsophisticated.’

‘No one can tell ME how I used that term but me and it is NOT a term that is inherently racist. I normally do not use language like that in the first place. I am angry at myself … I wish I had handled this better. I am very hard on myself. I’m still upset about it today. However, this one moment does not define me. I will continue to work hard for the residents of my ward.’



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