Moving to nip in the bud some potential bad press, White House hopeful Barack Obama's campaign persuaded a delegate to step down after she was ticketed for calling her neighbor's African-American children "monkeys."
Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, a Carpentersville village trustee, was elected as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She sports an Obama sign in her front yard.
On Saturday, two neighbor children were playing in the tree next-door to her house.
Ramirez-Sliwinski "came outside and told the children to quit playing in the tree like monkeys. The tree was not on Ramirez-Sliwinski's property," Carpentersville Police Commander Michael
Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. She said she was only trying to protect them from falling out of the tree.
"Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski said she saw the kids playing in the tree and didn't want them falling out of the tree and getting hurt. She said she calls her own grandchildren 'monkeys,' " Kilbourne said. The mother of one of the children did not see it that way, noting she and Ramirez-Sliwinski have clashed before.
"She felt it was racist because of the fact the children were African-American," Kilbourne said.
Told of the incident Monday by the Sun-Times, Obama's campaign called Ramirez-Sliwinski and
persuaded her to step aside as a delegate because the campaign felt her remarks were "divisive and unacceptable."
"Given the incident, she is stepping down as a delegate and will be replaced," said campaign spokesman Ben Labolt.
Ramirez-Sliwinski did not return messages seeking comment Monday. She told the Daily Herald she meant no racism with her comment but that "after this incident, I will not run again" for trustee.
The only Hispanic on the board, Ramirez-Sliwinski has been a strong voice for Carpentersville's 40 percent Hispanic population. She and Village President Bill Sarto opposed an English-only proposition and an ordinance to crack down on illegal immigrants.
"Frankly, I don't see a law that was broken here," Sarto said. "I think this entire thing has been blown out of proportion. She's a good neighor. She went over to caution the children to be
careful not to fall out of a tree. She has never indicated to me any prejudice whatsoever. We have a trustee who has been convicted on four counts of domestic battery and refuses to resign from the board. He beat his wife with a baseball bat. This seems far less egregious to me."
Ramirez-Sliwinski's $75 ticket was for "disorderly conduct," which Kilbourne defined as, "when a person does something that alarms or disturbs another."
Wow. So, let me just say right off the bat -- if you think this was a racist comment, then you're not very bright. If I were attempting to liken a child climbing in a tree to an animal that spends time climbing around in trees, monkeys would probably be the first thing I would think of. What else? I'm sure there are some lizards that hang out in trees, and maybe snakes, but they don't really climb the way a person would.
So this woman is not only ticketed, but she loses her position as well? This is just ridiculous. If the kids in the tree were white, or Asian, or Hispanic, there would be no problem. So maybe, just maybe, the problem is not racism, but rather the over-sensitivity of some blacks and the willingness of those same people to automatically think anything that could potentially be considered a racist remark is automatically a racist remark.
Does this mean that no black child can ever dress up like a ghost for Halloween, so no one refers to them as a "spook"?
You know, though, I don't think it would have mattered what Ramirez-Sliwinski called the kids -- she could have just told them to get out of the tree, and I would bet the kids' mother still would be crying some sort of discrimination, because there are too many people who just spend their days looking to be a victim of something.
The worst part is that Ramirez-Sliwinski was giving the kids some good advice (Ever fall out of a tree? It hurts, especially when you hit branches on the way down.), and they've now been taught not only to ignore that advice, but also how to play the race card any time they have an opportunity. I feel bad for them, having an idiot for a mother.