Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner is defending comments he made about race last week at an open house that he claims are being taken out of context.
The comments, recorded by Bloomington resident Angela Scott who shared them with 25 News, focused on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In the video, Renner said: “Just because you have someone who checks the boxes, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be diverse. My personal favorite, that might not be Angela’s personal favorite, would be Clarence Thomas. He sure does not behave like someone who is African-American from my perspective.”
Renner says he is being misconstrued as he was only referring to the voting record of Thomas.
“I would assume that someone who grew up in the Jim Crow south would not vote to gut the Voting Rights Act that again is not just objectionable to African-Americans, but to all Americans who value the fundamental right to vote in this country,” Renner said.
He says the conversation, that was over an hour, focused on the diversity of mayoral appointees.
“You may have a female, you may have and African-American, someone who is Hispanic, somebody who checks a certain box but that does not necessarily mean that you provide policy representation. We were going down that, maybe a rabbit hole, but that was one of the things people were talking about,” he explained.
Scott—who went to speak to the mayor about his upcoming Connect Transit Board of Trustees appointees—is not sure why Renner mentioned her by name.
“I believe my exact words were ‘oh my god that’s so racist. I found his words to be racist. They weren’t in my opinion taken out of context I mean he said those words,” Scott said.
Renner tells 25 News he feels he is being singled out by a “very extreme right-wing blogger.”
Editor’s note: Renner’s comments were erroneously transcribed by us as “Just because you have someone from Czechoslovakia, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be diverse.” He actually said Just because you have someone who checks the boxes, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be diverse.” We regret the error.