Clarksville City Councilwoman Wanda Smith was found making racially insensitive remarks during a city council meeting on Thursday, February 27th. This is not the first time Wanda has spoken in a manner that seemed to be racially driven that has brought scrutiny to her and the position she currently holds.
On February 27th, Ward 6 Councilwoman took the opportunity to speak about Clarksville’s growth and potential rezoning around Whitfield Road, City Ward 9, as well as an additional case along Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. Parkway, Ward 10.
During the City Council Meeting, Ordinance 65-2019-20 was being discussed first. Councilwoman Stacey Streetman brought up the potential ramifications of rezoning around Whitfield Road if it were zoned as R-2. Zoning as R-2 would allow single-family residential housing to be built in the area discussed. Councilwoman Streetman’s concern was the overpopulated school systems. She stated that her concern was that the city could not predict who would move to the neighborhood if residential properties were built and what that may mean for the schools that are already running close to or over capacity. Councilwoman Wanda Smith attempted to add more substance to Streetman’s argument but did so in a less than favorable manner. Councilwoman Smith stated that her concern was the traffic congestion along Whitfield.
Though she assured Councilwoman Streetman that the city could predict most of who may move to that area if rezoned, she did add that there are potential outliers that could exacerbate the traffic congestion along the road. Councilwoman Smith stated, “Let me just say this, we have some culturals [sic] or races that they might get a 2-bedroom but 7 or 8 of them live there, you see what I’m saying, I see this all the time.” In some cultures, the practice of caring for your elders is expected as they age so you move them into the home with you. It is also common practice in other cultures that your adult children live with you until they are married. Furthermore, there are other cultures that invite extended family to stay with them in times of need when resources are scarce because they value familial relationships so highly. As a representative of such a diverse population of people here in Clarksville, it seems to some of our concerned citizens, that this was culturally insensitive to negatively portray a stereotype of any culture she was potentially referencing, in order to defend a zoning case during a city council meeting.
Later in the meeting, City Council was discussing Resolution 32-2019-20 which covered the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway Overlay District. Councilwoman Smith iterated her concerns in regard to the district becoming “too high class.” She wanted to make sure that the middle class would still have access to the area. She went on to state her interest in incorporating additions to the overlay which reference Black History and “progress.” Although, if a person wishes to include “progress” in regard to racial or civil rights equality there are many diverse options to choose from. Some of these options include women’s rights, Native American rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, and so on. One Clarksville citizen expressed their concern by saying that Councilwoman Smith’s statements seem to exclude certain cultures, people, and classes and that the sentiment behind her words seems to be that of racial or cultural superiority.
Back in August of 2016, a caucasian couple was attacked by a group of 10-15 African American individuals in Lincoln Homes. Rather than condemning the acts of the individuals, Wanda Smith stated that the attack may have been provoked and those individuals may have been defending themselves. She blamed the victims, while on Nashville News Channel 5, by stating that there were some unnamed witnesses who stated the couple had started the altercation by cursing at the group and calling them the “n-word.”
City council meetings are held on the first and last Thursdays of each month. The first meeting of the month is held at 4:30 p.m. and the last meeting is held at 7:00 p.m. Councilwoman Wanda Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-333-9556.