Cincinnati Councilwoman Calls Reaction to Notre Dame Fire a ‘Prime Example of Privilege’

Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral nearly burned to the ground Monday, but Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard called the reaction to the tragic event a “prime example of privilege.”

Dennard, who serves as president pro tem of the Cincinnati City Council, made the comments on Twitter early Tuesday morning.

I’m saddened that the beautiful cathedral in France was damaged. But this is a prime example of privilege. White people don’t have to see me if they don’t choose to. Black people don’t have a choice. Please read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison,” she said.

She referenced the disparity in news coverage between Monday’s fire and the recent arsons against predominantly black churches in Louisiana as proof of her argument.

It’s possible to hold multiple truth. I’m also saddened that Black churches in Louisiana were burned down. I’m sure they held significance as well. They were barely acknowledged,” Dennard wrote on Twitter.

Joe Mallory, vice president of Cincinnati’s chapter of the NAACP, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he agrees with Dennard.

This is not the first time this has happened with black churches, where people set fires to them. There is not an outcry. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of this country what people value,” he said.

He said city officials will “leave no stone unturned to improve” local landmarks such as Music Hall or Union Terminal.

If something happened to Music Hall, I guarantee they would rebuild it. Clearly, there is not a lot of value placed on black life; there’s no investment in trying to uplift the black community,” Mallory continued.

According to The Enquirer, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou criticized Dennard’s comments in a Facebook post.

City voters made a mistake electing this person to lead our fine city,” he said. “It is a mistake I only hope they reverse in 2021. This is an embarrassment.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tamaya Dennard” by Tamaya Dennard. Background Photo “Cincinnati City Hall” by Greg Hume. CC BY-SA 3.0.





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13 Thoughts to “Cincinnati Councilwoman Calls Reaction to Notre Dame Fire a ‘Prime Example of Privilege’”

  1. “Privilege” does not exist ex nihilo. It had to start somewhere with some people.

    I have no problem with others admitting to the world that my ancestors were more apt, more intelligent, more able, more sophisticated, and much more likely to come out on the winning side of any conflict with their ancestors. If they want to take it back 50 years, 500 years or 5,000 years I am up for that. The better team apparently won the privilege game and took home the trophy. The 2nd place team took home — well — 2nd place.

    If they say the game was rigged, then my ancestors were smarter than theirs and figured out how to rig the game and theirs didn’t. If they say my ancestors were more savage than theirs then that means theirs were weaker than mine. If they say there were more of mine, then that means that mine were simply better at understanding how to use the environment and technology to sustain a greater population. If they say that my ancestors were better geographically situated that means that they were better realtors, able to find and hold superior territory. If they say my ancestors had bigger, badder, and more destructive weapons that means than their ancestors were probably stuck in a stone-age existence for 5,000 years past their time.

    No matter how you slice it… they are making the claim for me that their ancestors could not quite hack it when it came to competition for the “privilege” of being on top. They were weaker, ineffective, and overall a fine example of Darwinism in action. Seems to me as if they are pointing the “finger of blame” at the wrong set of ancestors. I’d suggest they have a heartfelt talk with their grandma and grandpa and ask them why great-great-great-grandpas and grandmas were so pitiful and sucked in the game of life while ours were highly intelligent, creative, and resilient.

    Now understand that ~this~ is how ~they~ see the world. This is what ~they~ are admitting happened. Unless, of course, they want to somehow claim that “privilege” just happened along one day from out of nowhere and someone picked it up off the ground and has been using it ever since. Should be an interesting and amusing read.

    1. 83ragtop50

      Excellent comment.

      Playing the “victim” – or the descendant of some “victim” is hardly a winning argument.

  2. Larry

    Oh good grief.

    She just doesn’t get it. The fire at Notre Dame was a tragedy not because it was a white church. it was a tragedy because it was a historical site that has enormous cultural value. A fire that destroyed the Temple of Heaven, the Wailing Wall, the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Mosque of Mecca, the Taj Mahal, Ankgor Wat, the Acropolis, the Moai of Easter Island or Macchu Picchu would have been no less a tragedy.

    Get a clue, councilwoman!

  3. HarvardR

    Once the “privilege” accusation came out, her argument fell off the cliff.

  4. Christopher Hoving

    Notwithstanding the source, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is the finest American novel ever written. Like all great novels, its ostensible subject matter doesn’t limit its lessons. As a troubled white teen, I saw it as portraying brilliantly the alienation I felt. It’s even more relevant today with the terrible adoption of identity politics.

  5. SDN

    Booker T Washington, Republican, said it best:

    “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well.”

  6. Heddrick Steel

    As a Cincinnati area resident for most of my life, I can guarantee you that this woman’s ideas are not the norm for our relatively conservative region. I would dispute her contention that the burning of black churches gets no new coverage. In fact, it outrages Christians of all denominations and has been well covered. I would also dispute her underlying assumption that the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris is just another old church building.

    Moreover, the notion that the Cathedral of Notre Dame is a “white church” fails to understand Catholicism. Catholicism is a world religion. Many don’t realize one sixth of the world’s Catholics are from sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, about 3 million French are black, and since 60% of French are Catholic, one would expect a good number of them to be black, French Catholics.

    So, the bottom line: Notre Dame in Paris was probably a church used or visited by many French Catholic blacks.In that sense, a black church was burned.

  7. bflat879

    I believe Ms. Dennard is completely wrong, black people are always visible. In many cases, lately, they’ve been visible in negative ways, such as a comment like this. There are times, when it is wise, to engage your brain before you engage your mouth (or your twitter fingers). My guess is this is one of them. If you’re going to have visibility, you can be visible in 2 ways, positively or negatively. If the majority of black people strive for the positive, life will be good.

  8. not2day

    Ignorance of history is bliss.

  9. Ken

    She is just humiliated there is nothing in the world her ancestors created that is worth mourning if it burned down. She is a part of NO great historic or cultural heritage and resents those who are.

  10. Meremortal

    Whose privilege? The failure to report those fires is the fault of the media, that’s all. They aren’t doing their job. And yet I knew about the fires from the sources that did report on them.

  11. Perhaps the council member is unaware that Catholic churches around France have been the target of vandals with over ten hit this year (not counting ND as we don’t know the origin)

    I wonder what privilege kept that out of the news

  12. Chris

    To say the reaction to a Catholic Cathedral burning is white privilege is to deny the very dignity of the human person the Catholic Church professes. Here are some privileged Sisters from Louisiana, founded before the Civil War.