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CA columnist writes about merits of Henri Brooks controversial comments

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Wendi Thomas wrote a column in Commercial Appeal asking if Henri Brooks had a point during a May 12 meeting where B Four Plied, Inc. came before Shelby County Commission to vie for a $1.7 million roofing contract. Wendi Thomas wrote a column in Commercial Appeal asking if Henri Brooks had a point during a May 12 meeting where B Four Plied, Inc. came before Shelby County Commission to vie for a $1.7 million roofing contract.
Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas' latest editorial about the issue is under heavy discussion. Thomas' article has been shared over and over on social media. Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas' latest editorial about the issue is under heavy discussion. Thomas' article has been shared over and over on social media.
Controversial comments made by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks stirred quite a firestorm. Controversial comments made by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks stirred quite a firestorm.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - Controversial comments made by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks stirred quite a firestorm. Some people are now wondering if she had a point.

Commercial Appeal columnist Wendi Thomas' latest editorial about the issue is under heavy discussion. Thomas' article has been shared over and over on social media.

Dozens and dozens of people going back and forth on the what Thomas calls the merits of Brooks' comments.

"Let me just say this up front. What she said was inelegant, it was inappropriate," said Thomas. "There's no oppression Olympics going on. We're not trying to compete for who is the most oppressed minority."

Thomas wrote a column in Commercial Appeal asking if Henri Brooks had a point during a May 12 meeting where B Four Plied, Inc. came before Shelby County Commission to vie for a $1.7 million roofing contract.

The company has 25 Hispanic roofers and no African-American employees.

"The comments and the reaction to her comments were really a distraction from a larger issue, which is economic justice," explained Thomas. "I think that's the conversation we should be having in Memphis."

When Brooks repeatedly argued that African-Americans should be among the contractor's minority employees, Pablo Pereyra with the Hispanic Republic Alliance was in the audience for a different item.

He asked to speak on Brooks' objections and asked if he is less American, calling Hispanics in Memphis the minority in the minority.

Here is how Brooks responded.

"You asked to come here, we [African-Americans] did not," she said.

Brooks later told WMC Action News 5, "What I said was factually correct, historically correct."

"I just refused to get engaged in an argument about what Henri said or how she said it. Let's talk about some of these numbers," said Thomas.

Thomas, who founded the race relations group, Common Ground, said it's not how Brooks made those comments, it's why Brooks said them.

Thomas went back to the 1994 Intergovernmental Consortium Disparity Study.

"There was $1.16 billion in construction contracts, prime contractors, that went to white-owned firms and 7.6 percent went to firms owned by white females. None of those dollars, $1.16 billion, went to ethnic minorities," said Thomas.

Thomas says cities like Atlanta found a way to have government contracts proportionate to the population.

Some commissioners threw around the word "censure," but it seems unlikely.

No one has filed a formal proposal to censure Brooks.

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