Tag Archives: institutional racism

L.A. black firefighter gets $2.7M after coworkers lace spaghetti with dog food

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

firefighterI don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but in New York City, the fire department is white, white, white. Let’s hope this case in Los Angeles will raise awareness of racial discrimination issues among firefighters. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The city is paying $2.7 million to settle a lawsuit from a black firefighter who claims he suffered racial discrimination after co-workers served him spaghetti laced with dog food…

In his lawsuit, firefighter Tennie Pierce, 51, said after he took a bite of the meal two years ago, he noticed other firefighters laughing. He demanded to know what was in the food after a second bite but nobody answered.

Pierce said he suffered retaliation for reporting the incident and verbal slurs, insults and derogatory remarks, including taunting by firefighters “barking like dogs (and) asking him how dog food tasted,” the lawsuit said.

David Wellman, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz hired by Pierce’s attorney, said the association of a black man and dog food “resonates with the deep historical roots of slavery and the corresponding dehumanization.”

“It’s not just silly stuff. It’s racially motivated,” he said.

The ad industry’s mascot of cultural cluelessness

Note from CVK:
I highly encourage you to read Brownstein’s recent op-ed for AdAge.com, in which he quotes his one Black Friend and declares that agencies don’t get enough black and Latino applicants because “inner-city kids love to watch TV commercials — but they have no idea how the commercials are made.” The piece really encapsulates the cluelessness that exists in the advertising industry.

by guest contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

marc brownsteinAdvertising agencies consistently introduce characters that symbolize the cultural cluelessness, insensitivity and even racism so prevalent in the industry. Classic examples include Aunt Jemima, the Frito Bandito, and the Calgon Couple conspiring with their “ancient Chinese secret.” MultiCultClassics is proud to present the latest such character: Marc Brownstein.

Anyone unfamiliar with this new character is cordially encouraged to read the AdAge perspective presented in Essay 1205.

Just to be clear, this commentary is not intended to be a direct attack against Marc Brownstein. After all, it’s highly likely that Brownstein is a decent fellow and upstanding citizen. And he’s probably not a mean-spirited racist. Therefore, let’s avoid being haters regarding the true Marc Brownstein.

Rather, readers can think of Marc Brownstein as a label for actions and attitudes. Based on recent events (many of which have been detailed on this blog over the past months), it seems safe to conclude that every major Madison Avenue shop has a bunch of Marc Brownsteins on staff.

So what exactly is a Marc Brownstein?

When confronting issues of diversity and exclusivity, a Marc Brownstein openly displays passive bias. (Click here to read the MultiCultClassics kickoff essay, which serves up the phenomenon of passive bias.)

For guidance on race-based questions, a Marc Brownstein seeks counsel from a Black friend (who is often the only Black person in the Marc Brownstein social network). Of course, this Black friend will be a class act, unlike the majority of minorities featured on evening news broadcasts and regular installments of The People’s Court and Cops. Plus, the Black friend’s viewpoint will completely represent the opinions of every dark-skinned individual on Earth. Continue reading