Oak Park trustee Susan Buchanan berated fellow trustees for speaking on racial equity and oppression during Monday's board meeting.
"You have been white from birth," Buchanan told fellow trustees Dan Moroney and Deno Andrews. "Why are you arguing what is a system of oppression? You've never experienced one, so shut up! I don't want to hear from you! Just stop Dan, just stop Deno. You are not oppressed and people in Oak Park are and we are trying to recognize that as a community."
Buchanan's comments drew a round of applause from the audience.
"This mayor and this board is obviously not willing to face history," she said. "We have a chance to make history. It is time for this community to face equity. Enough! And you stop it! You are a white male! You stop it, you are a white male!
Speaking to Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, a Palestinian immigrant, Buchanan said "Your skin is light enough. Stop it!"
Buchanan, a medical doctor who has served on the board since April, made the comments while discussing a motion to adopt an updated diversity statement.
"I think if we reduce these conversations to 'nobody cares because you are a white male,' I don't think we're doing this right," Moroney replied to Buchanan.
Earlier this year, Oak Park's Community Relations Commission recommended amendments to the diversity statement. At the May 29 board meeting, the trustees tabled the discussion. Andrews and Moroney, along with fellow trustees Arti Walker-Peddakotla and Simone M. Boutet, asked that the discussed be revived at this week's meeting.
"I'm so tired of hearing two white men tell us what systems of oppression are," Buchanan said. "This is like if you guys wanted to tell us what it's like to have a menstrual cycle."
Trustee Susan Buchanan
Susan Buchanan, M.D., M.P.H, was elected to the Village Board in April 2019. Prior to her election, she served as a volunteer on the Village of Oak Park Board of Health.
A medical doctor whose career began in family practice, she later became interested in public policy and pivoted to preventive medicine and public health.
Susan has spent the last 15 years helping vulnerable workers by improving health and safety on the job, and has become an expert on the health effects of environmental pollutants.
Board certified in both family and preventive medicine, she has directed the University of Illinois Chicago’s residency training program in occupational and environmental medicine.
Currently, she is an attending physician and clinical associate professor of occupational and environmental health sciences with UIC’s Health and Hospital System and School of Public Health.
She also is the director of the Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health and a recent past member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee.
To contact Trustee Buchanan, call 708.358.5791 or email TrusteeBuchanan@oak-park.us.