Jesus Christ! What is this world coming to when a black person isn’t allowed to call another black person the n-word or even use the n-word around them? Okay, let me clear this up, folks. Apparently according to a federal jury in New York, you can be held financially accountable for calling someone black the n-word even if you yourself are black. Yes, no “term of endearment” crap; and yes, forget about context.
According to a recent ruling in a lawsuit filed by 38-year-old Brandi Johnson (pictured above), a black woman, against Rob Carmona who is also black, use of the word promotes a hostile work environment. And because of Carmona’s use of the N-word, he is now fresh out of $250,000 of his hard earned money.
This from Associated Press:
In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’s argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.
Jurors awarded $30,000 in punitive damages Tuesday after finding last week that the manager’s four-minute rant was hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.
The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, hinged on the what some see as a complex double standard surrounding the word: It’s a degrading slur when uttered by whites but can be used at times with impunity among blacks.
But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn’t make it any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly targeted her with the slur during a March 2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.
Johnson, who taped the remarks after her complaints about his verbal abuse were disregarded, said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.
“I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed,” Johnson testified.
The jury ordered Carmona to pay $25,000 in punitive damages and STRIVE to pay $5,000.
Talk about the irony of this. So she was being reprimanded by her supervisor for inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior, and, well, her supervisor acted in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner himself. I’m not picking sides here, but what if he called her a whore? Or may have suggested that she was out of line for wearing a whore’s uniform to the workplace? Would that have been considered to be hostile?
Outside court after her victory, Johnson said she was “very happy” and rejected Carmona’s claims from the witness stand Tuesday that the verdict made him realize he needs to “take stock” of how he communicates with people he is trying to help.
“I come from a different time,” Carmona said hesitantly, wiping his eyes repeatedly with a cloth.
“So now, now you’re sorry?” Johnson said outside court, saying she doubted his sincerity and noting Carmona had refused to apologize to her in court last week. She said he should have been sorry on March 14, 2012, “the day when he told me the N-word eight times.”
Her lawyer, Marjorie M. Sharpe, said she hoped the case sent a strong message to those who “have tried to take the sting out of the N-word. … It’s the most offensive word in the English language.”
Carmona left the courthouse without immediately commenting, as did all eight jurors.
Oh well, I guess the rules have changed now that we’re post-racial and all. But hey, don’t tell that to anyone black who disagrees with this ruling. You know, the black folks who may be questioning the racial makeup of the jury; who are seeing this as just some white folks getting some payback for not being able to say the word without getting their face punched in. You know, the same white folks who feel it’s unfair that thy can’t say the word not even if it is while repremanding someone black for dressing like a $2 whore on a Friday night. Of course this is all subjective. One man’s inappropriate attire might be another man’s motivation. You know, in an Anthony Weiner or former mayor Bob Filner sort of way?
In closing arguments, Sharpe had said Carmona’s use of the word was intended to offend “and any evidence that defendants put forth to the contrary is simply ridiculous.”
“When you use the word nigger to an African-American, no matter how many alternative definitions that you may try to substitute with the word nigger, that is no different than calling a Hispanic by the worst possible word you can call a Hispanic, calling a homosexual male the worst possible word that you can call a homosexual male,” Sharpe told jurors.
But Carmona’s lawyers said the 61-year-old black man of Puerto Rican descent had a much different experience with the word. Raised by a single mother in a New York City public housing project, he became addicted to heroin in his teens and broke it with the help of drug counselors who employed tough love and tough language.
Carmona went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University before co-founding STRIVE in the 1980s. Now, most of STRIVE’s employees are black women, his attorney, Diane Krebs, told jurors in her opening statement.
“And Mr. Carmona is himself black, as you yourselves can see,” Krebs said.
Some mauy say that the black woman in this case was just out for a pay-day much like the white woman who sued Paula Deem. Fortunately for Brandi Jackson, unlike Lisa Jackson who sued Deen, she won her lawsuit. Yep, a white woman sues a white woman in a discrimination lawsuit where she alleged a racially hostile environment, and loses. Black woman sues a black dude trying to help her get a job, and well, you see where I’m going with this. I swear, I don’t know what to make of this new post-racialness. So, I’ll just say in closing that it’s confusing. But hey, I suppose no matter your race use of such language at the workplace isn’t acceptable. To that point, as broke as I am I think I’m going to go out to a hiring agency with my pants sagging do low that Don Lemon will cry so I too can get a check no matter how small. Yep, so much for Bob Carmona trying to help, his organization STRIVE, and transforming lives through employment. I might be wrong, but it’s a damn shame that you can’t even help black folks.