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Equity chair: "no thanks" to "Colorblind Racism in Trump America" speech

Posted at 10:35 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 07:00:50-05

The leader of a group meant to promote equity and diversity in the Lee County School District is coming under fire for his response to an event on Wednesday to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying "You are kidding me," and "No thanks."

The event will feature a guest speaker talking about "Colorblind Racism in Trump America." But the leader of Lee County School District's Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC) is calling it "hate speech."

Last week, a Florida Gulf Coast University professor sent an email to members of the community inviting them to a Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The event will feature Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva of Duke University, who will speak on the topic of "Colorblind Racism in Trump America."

"{The purpose of the event is} to broaden the knowledge, the experience some folks may have," former EDAC member Larry Aguilar said.

The head of EDAC, Joe Rider, responded to the email saying: "You are kidding me, do you believe I am interested in hearing some hate speech like that? What purpose could that possibly serve? No thanks."

"Anyone reading that email would see there's no hate speech at all," Aguilar said.

"It promotes hate. It doesn't promote inclusiveness. It promotes separation," Rider told Four in Your Corner. "They're saying Trump's American is racism and I just don't feel that way."

Aguilar said members of EDAC have been calling him about Rider's response.  "This is an easy one. This is an easy call. He really needs to step down. He's not fit to sit on EDAC," he said.

"If they want -- over this comment -- to vote me off as chairman and vote me off this committee, I can't do anything about it," Rider said.

Members of the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee are appointed by the School Board, and then committee members appoint the chair. The school district said it's up to the committee on any actions it wishes to take.