The white board members who represent rural communities did not appreciate the lecture.

“They’re creating strife between people labeling us as racist and privileged because we’re white,” Supervisor Arnold Schlei, a 73-year-old retired veal farmer who has been on the county board for 11 years, said in an interview. “You can’t come around and tell people that work their tails off from daylight to dark and tell them that they got white privilege and they’re racist and they’ve got to treat the Hmongs and the coloreds and the gays better because they’re racist. People are sick of it.”

He and others opposing the resolution argued that to acknowledge disparities faced by people of color would tilt social advantages to their benefit. The word “equity,” which was included in the resolution, served as a trigger for many, who made the false claim that memorializing it as a goal would lead to the county’s taking things from white people to give them to people of color.

Those opposed to the resolution made far-reaching claims about its potential impact. The local Republican Party chairman, Jack Hoogendyk, said the resolution would lead to “the end of private property” and “race-based redistribution of wealth.” Others have argued that there is, in fact, no racism in Marathon County, and even if there was, it’s not the county board’s business to do anything about it.

James Juedes, a dairy farmer who lives on a farm just east of Wausau that has been in his family for 126 years, has been one of the most public opponents of the resolution. He has also organized counterdemonstrations to local Black Lives Matter protests.

In an interview at his farm, Mr. Juedes, 51, said systemic racism “doesn’t exist here” and suggested those pushing the resolution were doing so to benefit themselves financially.

“I have yet to recall any type of racial instances that has been reported in this community that has caused any type of stress,” he said.

La’Tanya Campbell, a 39-year-old Black social worker who was at the meeting last week, related a different experience. Ms. Campbell works as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, and said she sometimes had to enlist white colleagues to help clients find apartments to rent in Wausau.

As she campaigned for the resolution, Ms. Campbell said, the subtle racism she had long experienced in Wausau became explicit, including hate mail calling Black people “animals.” She sought therapy to deal with the stress.

“Typically, the racism you experience is behind closed doors, but since I’ve started on this resolution I can’t believe some of the things that I’m hearing,” she said. “You feel unsafe being a woman, I feel unsafe being a Black woman. And doing anti-oppression work, it adds up.”

By the day of the meeting to consider the resolution, few were left undecided.

Some white attendees distributed copies of articles from The Epoch Times, a newspaper that has trafficked in pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. A transgender woman in favor of the resolution wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.

Twenty-eight people addressed the board for three minutes each; 18 were against the resolution, and 10 supported it.

Bruce Bohr, a retired engineer, called the resolution a giveaway to the county’s people of color. “Government cannot give anyone someone something without taking it away from someone else,” Mr. Bohr said.

Supervisor E.J. Stark, a retired insurance adjuster, said it would leave the county liable for legal damages “if somebody looks cross-eyed at somebody.”

It fell to the board’s people of color to make the case for it.

Mr. Xiong warned of economic calamity if the board rejected the resolution. “If a resolution does not pass, it could have detrimental effect on our hiring, on our economy and other realms of business,” he said.

And Mr. Harris pleaded with his white colleagues to see people of color as equal citizens. “People of color have come here,” he said. “They want to contribute, they want to be accepted and acknowledged.”

The full county board could reconsider the resolution, but it seems clear it won’t pass. John Robinson, a Community for All supporter who has been on the board on and off since 1974, said after the meeting that there were 14 to 16 votes in favor, out of 38, “on a good day.”

Ms. Lo and Ms. Campbell both said they were contemplating moving away from Wausau to someplace more welcoming to people of color.

But though she believes the dispute over the resolution has added to the community’s political polarization and caused her personal trauma, Ms. Campbell said the fight had been worth the effort.

“If you don’t continue to keep having the conversation and keep pushing for that equity and recognition, nothing changes,” she said in the courthouse lobby after the vote. “So it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. But with my children and my grandchildren, I’m fighting for them, for other people’s children and grandchildren. All our forefathers, if they were to have stopped fighting, we wouldn’t have anything.”

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