ELGIN – Earlier this week, U-46 School Board member Traci O'Neal Ellis opined about the National Football League controversy on her personal Facebook page, saying "That flag means nothing more than toilet paper to me."
The post was passed along to fellow U-46 Board member Jeanette Ward, who shared Ellis' comments with others. Local media picked it up, and Ellis' words were soon appearing on national blogs and being commented on by national political persons Saturday like former Governor Mike Huckabee:
Ellis is an attorney and is the executive director of human services at the prestigious, taxpayer-funded Illinois Academy of Math and Science. She describes herself as passionate both professionally and personally as "in pursuit of mission-driven organizations where employees thrive and a world free from discrimination and harassment based on race, sex, national origin, color and all the other ways in which we diminish each other."
And after all the attention, Ms. Ellis doubled-down on her school board Facebook page about the controversy.
"The flag and the anthem are symbols in this country of freedom and 'justice and liberty' for all. Yet that is a blatant lie for black folks. I could recite chapter and verse about how my heritage and the heritage of my children and grandchildren have been robbed because my ancestors suffered through the Middle Passage and were brought here against their will, stripped of their identities and forced to toil as slaves, all while suffering atrocities that have been neatly and conveniently left out of our history books," she wrote.
She said she has many family members and friends who now serve or have served in the United States military, and they have her deepest respect.
"But let’s be clear, I can love and respect them without loving a false symbol of hope. And to conflate the protest happening in the NFL with disrespect for the flag is disingenuous at its best and downright ignorant at its worst," Ellis wrote in her Facebook essay.
"Our protests have nothing to do with the flag and everything to do with the right to live and live peacefully without fear of our sons and daughters being killed and their murders sanctioned by our government, the same government that we also pay taxes to support and have served in the military to protect."
Her comments continue and she does not apologize for referring to the US flag as toilet paper.
"The freedoms you enjoy and the flag you profess to love so much do not extend to me as a black woman. They are not my birthright," she wrote. "Yet I demand them anyway, and that demand includes the right to not feel any patriotism towards a piece of cloth and a pledge of allegiance to a country that does not love me back."
There are people calling for Ellis to resign from the U-46 Board, but her board colleague Jeanette Ward is not among them. Ms. Ward says board members are chosen through the election process.
"People have to pay attention to elections. That is the remedy for this kind of thing," Ward told Illinois Review. "If people don't like what she said, then they need to work hard and get her out of office in 2019."
In response to Ms. Ellis comments, one man from Jacksonville Florida wrote:
Clifton Greene Dear Traci O'Neal Ellis, I am a 68 year old black man and praise God every day for being born in the United States.
SEEMS to me the people with the best jobs, social security, pensions, and 401is seem to whine and protest the most.
You will not find the quality of life afforded to African Americans here in the United States anywhere else on the planet.
By far our country is not perfect and has it's flaws, but to me has set up a government of rules and laws that protect the rights of all people.
Our current President even defended the rights of LGBTIQ.
I grew up watching the civil rights protests of the 60s in primarily Birmingham Alabama, later to learn that a man in his 60s or 70s of that same city of Birmingham had become a multi millionaire before the movement began.
If you desire change get off one knee and get on two knees to make change!