Michigan school board member responds to controversial post - WNEM TV 5

Michigan school board member responds to controversial post

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Source: CNN Source: CNN
DETROIT (CNN) -

A Michigan school board member is accused of making comments that increase the racial divide.

Detroit School Board Member Lamar Lemmons is selected to represent children of all races in the school district, so when he made a post on Facebook saying Korean and Chaldean business owners exploited Detroiters, he got backlash.

In the post Lemmons wrote:

"The Michigan Chaldean Community built a Billion dollar empire from Negro Food Stamps!”

Najib Atisha, a Chaldean and a Detroit business owner for 40 years, said the comments only increase racial tension in a city he cares about.

"I can tell you that Indian Village sales with food stamps are 30 percent of our business. We are here to cater to everybody,” Atisha said. “Chaldeans are the immigrants who have stuck by the city through thick and thin for the past 40 to 50 years."

Lemmons said his message was meant for African American Detroiters to point out there are opportunities in impoverished communities.

"They are immigrant entrepreneurs who are living the American Dream while most African Americans are living the American nightmare,” Lemmons said. “People tend to look at their community as poor and therefore there are no opportunities. But that's where all the opportunity is."

He said too many business owners are exploiting Detroiters. How so? By making money in the city then going home to the suburbs.

"We have a trade imbalance. Nations go to war over trade imbalances,” Lemmons said.

Lemmons said it isn't about race, it's about supporting Detroiters.

"It is exploitation if you are not part and parcel of the community,” he said.

Atisha disagrees.

"I own businesses in multiple cities. There is no way I can have a residency in Detroit, Centerline, Warren and Ypsilanti, Michigan. That should not even be a factor,” he said.

There is something the business owners that feel targeted and Lemmons agree on, more successful businesses in Detroit is good for all.

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