(Shelby County) Shelby County Commissioner Henri Books is at the center of a firestorm again over comments she made comparing Hispanics to African Americans.
The discussion took place during Monday’s county commission meeting and was about whether a roofing company was discriminating against blacks because the majority of its employees are Hispanic.
Pablo Pereya with the Hispanic Republic Alliance was at the meeting to discuss something else, but took the opportunity to speak up when he heard this debate.
“I see you guys smirking and laughing, like I’m not a minority,” Pereya said, addressing the commissioners. “I know what it’s like to be a minority. I grew up in Memphis, and I can tell you being a Hispanic in Memphis is definitely the minority of the minority.”
Commissioner Brooks fired back at Pereya, saying the struggles of Hispanics and African Americans are not the same in this country.
“Don’t ever let that come out of your mouth again, because you know what? That only hurts your case,” she told Pereya. “Don’t compare the two. They’re not comparable.”
Pereya spoke with WREG about the meeting, “I was really shocked that that type of terminology was coming from a community leader.”
Comparing Hispanics to African Americans, Brooks also told Pereya, “You asked to come here. You asked to come here. We did not.”
Later, Brooks called out her fellow commissioner Chris Thomas for disagreeing with her.
Thomas, for one, said he believes those comments were racist and disrespectful.
“Excuse me you over there mouthing something…” she said across the room to Thomas. “You with the sheet, the white sheet on?”
“I took that as her saying I’m part of the KKK just because I disagreed with something she said,” Thomas told WREG.
On the phone Brooks told WREG Thomas is grandstanding, and that she said what she meant at the meeting.
She also said she considers this to be old news and she is done talking about it.
Brooks is known for questioning black participation in any Shelby County project.
She also is well known for her time as a state representative when she would refuse to recite the pledge of allegiance.
Pereya said while he is disheartened by Brooks comments, be believes most would disagree with her.
“She may have her perspectives, but that is not what the majority of our community believes.”