Here’s something you don’t hear every day.
In North Carolina Tuesday, an official was relieved of his position.
As relayed by the Greensboro News and Record, construction contractor Tony Collins was unanimously kicked off the Greensboro City Council’s Zoning Commission.
The reason: The day before, he’d addressed Carrie Rosario — who has her doctorate degree — as “Carrie” and “Mrs. Rosario.”
She’d repeatedly requested to be called “Dr. Rosario.”
Tony: I think that we’ve kind of lost our way on what we’re talking about here. We’re here to approve the standards that have been presented, and if Mrs. Rosario has something about one of those standards…
Carrie: It’s Dr. Rosario. Thank you, sir.
Tony: If Mrs. Rosario has something about one of those…
Carrie: Dr. Rosario.
Tony: Well, you know, I’m sorry — your name says on here, ‘Carrie Rosario.’ Hey Carrie. Um, if you’ve got something…
Carrie: It’s Dr. Rosario. I would call you ‘Tony.’ So please, sir, call me as I would like to be called. That’s how I’m identifying here.
Tony: It doesn’t really matter. We’re here to talk about…
Carrie: It matters to me. It matters to me. And out of respect, I would like you to call me by the name that I’m asking you to call me by. Thank you.
Tony: Your screen says ‘Carrie Rosario.’ Anyway…
Carrie: I’m verbalizing my name is ‘Dr. Carrie Rosario.’ And it really speaks very negatively of you as a commissioner to be disrespectful.
Tony: I’m not trying to be disrespectful. But you’re negotiating something that happened four years ago…
Twitter user I’m Different Different — who tweeted a clip of the conference — captioned it thusly:
“Dr. Carrie Rosario, a public health professor at UNCG, had to check Tom Collins on his disrespect! He has been removed from the zoning commission of Greensboro! This is the shame we have to carry. They have so much privilege to the point that they think we’re [not] due respect.”
Dr. Carrie Rosario, a public health professor at UNCG had to check Tom Collins on his disrespect! He has been removed from the zoning commission of Greensboro!
This is the shame we have to carry. They have so much privilege to the point that they think we’re no due respect pic.twitter.com/ro2m2OpEyp
— I’m different different (@BradMase) April 23, 2021
Per the Daily Mail, Carrie’s an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her degree’s in pubic health.
So what transpired before the dustup?
The Charlotte Observer offers insight:
The incident occurred toward the end of a four-hour Zoning Commission meeting…in which Rosario raised concerns about a development project a few hundred feet from her house.
Before her exchange with Collins, Rosario corrected another commissioner regarding her title and he apologized, saying, “I really don’t want to offend you in that regard, so, Dr. Rosario, I do apologize for that.”
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, member Sharon Hightower called for a vote on booting Tony.
“It was a very disrespectful exchange between an important commissioner and a public citizen. That should never happen.”
The following day, she waxed to McClatchy News:
“It is not going to be tolerated. As a Black female, I am not going to see another Black female treated in this manner.”
As seen in the video, Tony’s white.
Carrie told McClatchy his ejection left her “shocked.”
“It was a welcomed surprise. I do not believe his actions reflect the type of behavior the public needs or expects from its elected or appointed leaders.”
She spoke of benevolence — and feeling “safe”:
“I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at first and corrected him, but as the exchange unfolded, it was clear that he was intent on disrespecting me. I was hurt, upset, angry — because this was a public forum — and the public should feel safe to be themselves, to present their concerns, and feel respected in the process.”
The professor also explained her insistence upon being called “doctor”:
“I would love to say that people don’t operate off of appearances, but that has not been my experience. Black women, regardless of level of education, are consistently dismissed and overlooked or judged in our society. … [Systemic racism] made me even feel like I had to use my title in the first place.”
So was Tony a racist? She can’t say:
“I cannot judge what is in Mr. Collins’ heart, nor would I presume to, but I will say that racism as a system devalues and dismisses Black women — and Mr. Collins’ actions were evidence of the microaggressions that we face on a regular basis just trying to go about our daily lives.”
Shows how soft people are these days, 2 children going back and forth like they are in 5th grade but to be removed from a position bc feelings were hurt or whatever is sad and pitiful. Sad world we live in these days
— Barry Nugent (@dwgpnd1) April 24, 2021
“We?” I have a PhD. Very few people call me doctor. I’m a white dude. If it’s intentional disrespect, I don’t know – don’t care – but it’s certainly common. Not just happening to one group
— Dutch, Mac & Dillon (@LeonardsJohnG1) April 24, 2021
Am I surprised that this old white fart is an areshole? No.
Am I surprised something was actually done about it? Actually, yes.
— Stel Pavlou (@stelpavlou) April 23, 2021
Privilege is expecting people to call you by your title every time rather than your name. The hubris here is astounding.
— Holding a funeral for the media 📺 (@NuLLnVoiD4prez) April 24, 2021
She asked to be called by the title she worked very hard to earn. Why did he have such a huge problem with that?
— Inconvenient Taco ✊🏿😷🌹🏴❄️🌈☂️ (@Taco2theMax) April 24, 2021
I think @JoyAnnReid needs to have Dr. Carrie Rosario on her show. Do a whole segment on this issue.
— Stel Pavlou (@stelpavlou) April 23, 2021
That’s not REALLY a doctor. The title should only be used for MDs.
— Norman M. Valz (@Norm_Valz) April 24, 2021
PhD’s are routinely and correctly not called doctor unless of course you are married to the president. They hold a doctorate of philosophy, hence the p.
— cj&jack (@ercabc) April 24, 2021
Related to those last two, the Observer prefaced its article thusly:
Note to readers: McClatchy News, like most news organizations, follows AP style guidelines. Those guidelines state that the “Dr.” title is for individuals with a medical degree and only on the first reference. Given the nature of this story, we wanted to explain why we did not use her title in the article.
Sometimes you think you have an idea of how adult interaction in government goes.
And other times, well, you have to think again.
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