Mayor Daniel Biss has weighed in on the Second and Ninth ward City Council campaigns several times in the last weeks, urging voters to support the candidates whom he previously appointed. He describes his appointees as bringing “stability” and “calm.” At the same time, he complains that there has been “turbulence” and “divisiveness” in the current council, implying that the candidates challenging his appointees are also “divisive.”

I do not believe that Mayor Biss is consciously bigoted, but his language and his actions reflect his place in the white-dominated power structure. The terms and imagery he chooses are well-worn white-supremacist tropes. White culture tone polices: It demands politeness and calm over challenges to its power. The white power structure seeks always to maintain itself: It values consistency and stability over reform and change.

To use these white cultural values to disparage Black women is especially distasteful, bringing to mind the specter of the Angry Black Woman. (Also notable is Mayor Biss’ complete deflection of his own responsibility for the culture of the council over which he presides and the meetings that he leads.)

Evanston is a city that aims to be a leader in reform and in the dismantling of racism. Mayor Biss should be championing those values rather than disparaging them.

Betsy Wilson

Join the Conversation


The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I believe this author is implying that Mr. Biss IS bigoted. NOT SO! Just because he isn’t endorsing certain African American candidates the author is implying bigotry. Same old trope to get a person of color elected, no matter the qualifications. Stop using the race card, please. A certain someone needs to take lessons in tolerance and inclusion and it isn’t Mr. Biss.

  2. I take much more issue with the Clerk using her status as a member of “Latinos for Evanston” to write disparaging things online in Spanish about other candidates implying – in dark tones – that candidates are not good for the Evanston Latino community. Mendoza did later take these statements down, but candidates were not able to even respond to her comments. Geracaris being a Spanish speaker doesn’t make him the best candidate. Spanish is not even a difficult language to find a translator for if this were in fact real a real need the City, or 9th Ward, was facing. The City should be searching for the best candidate to advocate for the 9th award. If Geracaris does not have meetings, does not listen to constituents about concerns, and cannot vote on the stadium in any meaningful way to represent his ward, then he is not a good candidate regardless of whether ot not he is Latino. Latino people work hard and the fact that he always votes to increase taxes and is anti police is not acceptable. Shamelessly co-opting people’s ethnic allegiances when one is a public servant is despicable.

  3. So Betsy Wilson says that Mayor Biss chooses to use “well-worn white-supremacist tropes” and without any cited evidence the RoundTable prints her racist comments. Shameful journalism.

  4. The Round Table states that they do not publish comments that are mean spirited or libelous. This letter to the editor more than suggests that Mayor Biss uses language that is usually associated with white supremacists ..Ms Wilson aligns Mr Biss with a white power structure which in this context can only be understood as racist I find this very inflammatory

  5. Note that Mayor Biss’ endorsements are for a Black woman and a Latino. I’m sure Betsy is aware of this fact and purposefully omitted it. Only in Evanston, would someone ascribe “white supremacist tropes” to such endorsements. One can still believe they are inappropriate for other reasons, but describing it in that way does as extreme disservice in highlighting ACTUAL white supremacy that exists in our society. It totally undermines the cause.

  6. Shame on the RoundTable for publishing this letter that accuses the mayor of being “bigoted” and a user of “white-supremacist tropes.”

    Betsy Wilson can disagree with the mayor politically but if she is calling the mayor a racist – one of the worst characterizations a person can make of another – she needs to have hard evidence. By helping Betsy Wilson slander the mayor, the RoundTable seems all too eager to help those that want to see Evanston torn apart.

    I’ll repeat myself — shame on the RoundTable.

  7. How did Mayor Biss disparage Black women? And if he’s not “consciously bigoted”, then he’s not bigoted. Give him and our community a break. Ms. Wilson is just stirring up emotions, to no good end. A reprehensible, mean spirited column, to say the least.

  8. I am just SO TIRED of terms such as “white dominated,” “white supremacists,” “white culture policies!!!!” And indeed, also “racism!!” All terms designed to divide the people in our country!!!

    I came to this country from Uruguay in 1966 and in my 56 years in this country I have NEVER seen people rushing out to immigrate to Uruguay. Or to any other South or Central American country! Nor rushing to immigrate to Nigeria, Congo or any other African Country (I hear Nigerians who immigrated here are doing extremely well!). The same about China and India, to mention just a few of the countries where people are desperate to come to the one country who offers unequaled and amazing opportunities. If Ms Wilson hasn’t noticed the phenomenon, I urge her to go to the South and most recently the North Border to find out.

    Instead of belittling American Whites, and the amazing “White cultural policies” that have given so much TO SO MANY PEOPLE (including me!!)! Ms Wilson should use her energies to once and for all end the existence of the EVIL ACHIEVEMENT GAP (not “opportunity gap!!) in our schools so more people can “get out of poverty” and “climb to the middle class!!”

    As for our mayor….. I would ask him, “At a time when our economy is so bad that we are barely ”making it,” when we are helping economically people who can’t even pay their rent…., why are you hiring TWO new employees to the “climate action” office of the city of Evanston?????

    1. The Mayor also endorsed the 9th ward candidate who printed many glossy paper fliers that killed trees but is running on a Green Platform. Geracarus is in favor of passing laws that will prevent Latino people from running small businesses successfully by taxing and over regulating how people work. Latino people want to work and get good education for our children. We don’t want the skating parks and 25 cent taxes for plastic bags. He does not speak for Latino community and no does either Clerk Mendoza who is against small business. They will regulate restaurants from being able to employ Latinos because of too much laws and taxes. Geracaris and Mendoza are not good for the Latino community and I hope you see the message and spread it.

      1. Hi Mario,

        I wonder where you were when my family died of Covid. Juan and Stephanie were some of the few people helping the Latino community. Thanks to their advocacy, many people like me could attend the vaccine clinic at Fleetwood Jordain. The people you say don’t represent the “Latino” community were the only ones helping us long before they ran for office.

        My family and I received Covid- 19 shots. We received weekly food deliveries from Stephanie when we had Covid. We received funeral assistance guidance. We got medical assistance, and they helped me navigate city services. We were helped with rent and utility assistance. I have learned how to open a business and had guidance on how to navigate reducing our house taxes. My senior parents had their water bill lowered and cleared a violation in their home.

        Where were you, Mario, when I needed help? Where was Darleen, and where was Kathy? These Candidates appear out of nowhere and get involved with local organizations to check a box and run for office. It’s such a joke.

        Please take a moment to reflect on yourself. The Latinos community is very diverse, and many of us have different needs, and not one representative will represent all our needs. You may not like Juan and Stephanie, but you will never be able to take away what they have done and continue to do. The Latino community in Evanston knows who they are, including you! I am happy that you take the time to think about Juan and Stephanie because many of us think of them daily and are thankful to have them.

        Stephanie and Juan are good-hearted people who will go above and beyond for people, not politics. I am personally looking for a public servant, not a politician.

        1. Then they can continue to do social services in church to help people instead of taking a govermemt position with pay and then taxing business owners and writing inappropriate campaign messages as a public official. It’s abuse of power.

  9. I also question why the Mayor seems incapable of managing his council. In addition, democracy is inherently messy. It’s not always smooth sailing and no one should expect that. This is not an autocracy. Finally, I take issue with the endorsement of the 9th Ward incumbent who holds infrequent meetings, announces them on one-day notice on a Facebook page with only 27 followers, and never provides meeting minutes. I have no idea what he’s doing. This is not democracy.

    1. Lucy, please take your criticism and vote for the opposition of the 9th award candidate: tell your friends who live in the ward, too. My neighbor wrote 6 emails to the current Alderman Geracaris and he did not reply to her 1 single time. She is an older woman and needed some attention to resolve a problem with her car and the parking. He never bothered to answer after 6 emails! But he is the preferred child of the Mayor so he is very hard to beat. Please encourage your neighbors to vote against Geracaris!

  10. Ms Wilson your interpretation of anyone’s verbal
    comments has much to do with the listener’s/reader’s opinions / feelings, whether yours or mine. I respect your opinion so now I offer mine: My interpretation
    of what occurs in the City and School levels is based on outcome of actual votes (and future plans expressed) by Council members who vote and School Boards
    who vote (Mayoral opinion/action is validated by ‘appointees’ to Committees, Councils). I see a very different community picture from yours; however each of us has citizen privilege to vote! Ceal Hanchar

  11. I don’t think a Mayor advocating for candidates that will help his agenda is an example of implicit or explicit racism. He has a specific political agenda he wants to achieve and he wants candidates in office who will help him achieve his goals. And voters are welcome to listen to him or ignore him. This type of language policing is setting us back years and making conversations in Evanston among reasonable people impossible. Not every statement comes back to race.

    1. Thank you for saying this, Tom. I grew up here. I remember all the little white kids at Lincolnwood School chanting, “Gravy Train! Gravy Train!” when the busses pulled into the parking lot every morning—among other charming aspects of 1960’s racist Evanston. I absolutely understand why Evanston’s Black community feels the way it does. It has been dissed, cheated, and robbed by the White power structure for decades and decades. (Putting those babies on busses and shipping them to all-white schools was certainly disgraceful in retrospect, no matter how well-intended!) But framing everything in terms of race is just not helpful. It deadens the impact of legitimate pushback against harmful, destructive individuals and their actions. Accusing a genuinely good guy like Dan Biss of using white supremacist tropes in his laudable (and understandable) effort to create an efficient, functioning City Council is unnecessarily hurtful and divisive.

    2. I agree with Mr. Hayden’s comment. Mayor Biss is entitled to endorse candidates, especially those whom he has appointed to serve on the City Council–why would he not endorse them? I say this as a voter who has endorsed the challenger to one of his appointees, and someone who believes that Mayor Biss does champion the values of reform and dismantling racism.