Posted on December 17, 2010

James Meeks Tries to ‘Clarify’ Comments on Women, Hispanics and Asians Not Being ‘Minorities’

Mike Flannery, WFLD-TV (Chicago), December 16, 2010

On Wednesday, Chicago mayoral candidate James Meeks said that only African-Americans should be able to participate in affirmative action programs–and that Hispanics, Asians, and women should be excluded. Later, he tried to clarify his remarks.

Speaking to a candidates’ forum Wednesday on black-oriented WVON radio, the South Side state senator said it’s unacceptable that the share of city contracts going to African-American-owned businesses has shrunk in recent years.

“I think that the word ‘minority,’ from our standpoint, should mean African-American,” Meeks said. “I don’t think women, Asians and Hispanics should be able to use that title. That’s why our numbers cannot improve, because we use women, Asians and Hispanics, who are not people of color, who are not people who have been discriminated against. We fought for these laws based on discrimination. Now, groups that have not been discriminated against are the chief beneficiaries.”

State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) said, {snip} “White women don’t need affirmative action.”

“Sen. Meeks is wrong. White women, like other women, do face discrimination: the same discrimination facing racial minorities,” said Hedy Ratner, co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center.


Later on Wednesday night, Meeks attempted to clarify his earlier statement, and said that he would remove from City Hall affirmative action set-aside only businesses owned by “white women.”

Thursday, Meeks’ campaign released a statement saying in part:

“Senator Meeks strongly believes all minority and women-owned businesses deserve their fair share of City contract opportunities. But there’s no pretending that Chicago has a history of systemic corruption in its minority and women-owned business program and that African-American owned businesses are the most underrepresented among city contractors.&Nbsp;. . . As mayor, he would put an end to the corruption and lack of accountability that has been allowed to go unchecked.”