Butler County Republicans, Racism, and Privilege

**Statement from Chairwoman Catherine Lalonde**

This week, I was contacted by the Butler Eagle for my reaction to a racist Facebook message posted by Butler County Republican Committee claiming that systemic racism and white privilege do not exist. If you have an Eagle subscription, you can read their story through the linked article. If you don’t, I’m sharing those thoughts after the dashes below.

Before I do, know this (and please, read through to the end). The Butler County Democratic Committee unequivocally rejects the false notion that “every person in this country has the right to be, do and have whatever they want; they just have to be willing to work for it.”

It’s undeniable that Black and Brown Americans do have that right. But generations of White Americans have intentionally – and successfully – built national structures to weaken, narrow, and deny them the exercise and usage of that right at every turn.

The shameful reality, one the BCRC apparently cannot face, is this: across our history, Black and Brown people have borne the dehumanizing brunt of systemic violence, structural oppression, gross marginalization, and outright exclusion. As long as I am Committee Chair, we Democrats will not stand by and be silent. We will not be complicit in that system’s continuation, nor will we be blind to the part that we have all played, at some level, in its propagation.

Instead, we will listen to our Black and Brown friends, respect their words, and acknowledge their truths. We will be strong allies of their causes, amplify their voices, and share their visions. We will do all this fearlessly and with the understanding that by these efforts, we will build a better future for every American.

In fairness, I should mention that the Butler County Republicans did respond to this post. They removed it and according to their Chair, Al Lindsay, produced new rules governing social media messaging – creating a new post-vetting-and-approval process because, in his words, “when you have a committee where people express themselves, there are many divergent opinions.”

Mr. Lindsay, there should not be any divergent opinion about racism; racism is evil. Refining your communications process is a cosmetic touch-up; it does nothing to fight hateful ideology. There are no “good people on both sides” of this issue.

Given the speed with which this post was removed, the Republicans appear to understand how deeply wrong it was. Yet they make no attempt to disavow its contents or apologize for its creation. On the contrary, they are content to simply hide it away, pretend it never existed, and move on without comment – the very approach they appear to be taking towards the widespread, systemic, and very real racism plaguing our country today.

– Catherine

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“Catherine Lalonde, chairwoman for the Butler County Democratic Committee, said she wants to know who posted the comments and a clarification from the party. She said she also doubted that the inappropriate statement was collectively agreed upon by the county’s Republicans.

“I think most people I know would accept that we have had the privilege. We don’t really recognize it because of living in a mostly white place,” Lalonde said.

She said there are still people who would not want to live next to a nonwhite person. She said there are still inadequacies in today’s version of equality that have yet to be addressed.

“This is both myself and the (Democratic) committee feel this way. We recognize that there’s discrimination,” Lalonde said. “I definitely think they should deal with it within their committee and put out a message about what they believe should be done about racism.”