By Guest Contributor shani-o, originally posted at PostBourgie
Have you seen this story? It’s an lengthy piece by Gloria Campisi for the Philadelphia Daily News about a group of black workers at a city trash facility who are suing over racially segregated bathroom and water facilities. And apparently, these workers have been filing complaints about racism since 1999, with no investigations or follow-ups from the city.
Lawrence “Lonnie” Powell, 58, a semiskilled laborer at the city’s Northwest Transfer Station, in Roxborough, said that since he began working at the trash-handling plant in 2003 he has had to seek the superintendent’s permission to go to the bathroom — then descend five flights of stairs to use it.
Powell, who is black, said that white employees have been permitted to use a bathroom just 25 feet from his work station.
“On several occasions I’ve actually defecated on myself, trying to get down to the bathroom,” said Powell, who operates a machine that packs trash into tractor-trailers to be taken to landfills.
Among those allegations is that for several years Gill has kept a “supervisor’s bathroom,” one flight up from Gill’s office, that “only the white employees were allowed to use…whether or not they were supervisors,” Powell wrote in an affidavit last month.
“Quite often, while I’m up there, I could be sitting in my booth, and I see white guys going into the bathroom,” Powell said in an interview. “They walk right by the door and go right in the bathroom there. That’s maybe 25 feet away from where I’m at.”
But when he has to go to the bathroom, he said, he has to go down to Gill’s office to get permission, then descend five more flights.
Two other black workers, Gibson Trowery, 55, and Leslie Young Jr., 51, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in October 2007 and a lawsuit in January alleging discrimination by the city and infliction of extreme emotional distress by Gill.
Howard K. Trubman, a Center City attorney representing the black workers at the station, said that the law permits Trowery and Young to take their case to court because the PHRC did not rule within a year.
But black workers had complained in writing about what they considered racism at the station as far back as 1999, Young and Trubman said.
In August 2007, Powell aired the black employees’ grievances in a meeting with Gill and Streets Department Deputy Commissioner Carlton Williams, who then ordered Gill to open the supervisor’s bathroom to everyone, court documents show.
That meeting came three days after a job action on Aug. 17, 2007, in which no African-American employees at the station reported for work. The workers still refer to the protest as “Black Friday.”
Powell said that he later saw a black employee, who had been promoted to a supervisory position, using the “supervisor’s bathroom” several times.
But that didn’t last, and that employee went back to driving a truck, Trubman said.
Reading the comments on stories like this is often an exercise in patience. News stories about race, women’s rights, homosexuality, and Obama seem to attract bigots like flies.
When I read the piece this morning, there were 27 comments on it. Two had been removed, presumably by the editors. As I scrolled down, there were comments like “these men should be ashamed of themselves for bringing frivolous lawsuits against hard-working, upstanding men like Mr. Gill” (paging 1954!). And, “That guy should get Depends, they make them for both whites and blacks.” And, “I don’t know who’s worse, Campisi for writing this story, or the Daily News for putting it on the front page!” And, “Why do blacks want to be babysat??” These are, of course, paraphrased by yours truly, because while the comment section was closed by the time I got there, it has now been completely deleted.
G.D. tells me that the Philadelphia Daily News is right-leaning, like most metropolitan tabloids (think New York Post, or the cover of today’s Trentonian), so I’m not surprised by the vitriol in the comments about a story about blacks taking action against racism. But I am surprised by the decision to not allow the comments to be viewable, if not remain open.
Did the outright racism in the comments section make the editors uncomfortable?
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- ballewal on Quoted: Lucy Liu On Racial Image And Romantic Comedies
- racialicious on Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview
- Ruthie O on Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”
- littleeva on Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”
- SuperHyugaYoshichan on Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview
- Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview
- Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”
- Quoted: 100 Questions Toward Cultural Competency
- Book Review: Storm Warning by E.A. O’Neal
- The Racialicious Links Roundup 5.23.13
- Meanwhile, On TumblR: In Defense Of Beyoncé–Again
- Amitabh Bachchan In The Great Gatsby: Is Desi The New Jewish?
- Scandal Roundtable 2.22: “White Hat’s Back On”
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black blackface celebrities comedy culture diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity international interracial relationships latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes tv Uncategorized white youtube