By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Social media has been a means of shedding light on prejudice, and when Dawn Nichelle Lennon pulled out her phone to record the White woman who called her husband “the N word” because of the way he backed out of a Walmart parking lot, she became yet another activist revealing the truth of a local racist- who happens to work in the Prince George’s County Public School system.
A screenshot of the Facebook video where Dawn Nichelle Lennon confronted Darlene Sale, who was confronted.
“So while leaving the Walmart parking lot my husband was called The N Word, because he didn’t move out the parking spot the way she wanted him to. I saw where she was parking her vehicle and confronted her,”Lennon wrote on Facebook on Nov. 12 captioning the video. “How dare she talk to my husband that way and in front of me and my children. The thing I thought was so profound is that she was proud of it and didn’t try to deny it,” she wrote.
Lennon, who said she has experienced prejudice in the area before after her house was allegedly burned by racists in 2004, is extremely bothered by Sale’s actions.
“I was more upset that my kids had to experience that and see that type of display of racism, bigotry, and hatred. We were just very disheartened, very sad, and you know outraged too. We’re all still reeling from the incident,” she told The Prince George’s Sentinel.
“I’m so ashamed to live in a country that supports this type of hatred and bigotry,” Lennon wrote on Facebook.
In the video the racist woman, now identified as Potomac Landing Media Specialist Darlene Sale, admitted to calling Lennon’s husband the N word, yet because of legal obstructions, the school system can’t immediately fire her.
“While there have been calls for me to take disciplinary action, current negotiated agreements with the union representing this employee limit my ability to address this situation directly,” PGCPS Interim CEO Monica Goldson wrote in the statement. “Additionally, there are other legal considerations. This employee, like all of us, is entitled to due process. In the interim, I have taken appropriate action to reassign the employee.”
Theresa Dudley, president of Prince George’s County Educators Association (PGCEA), the union Sale belongs to, said while PGCEA does not support such language, the educator is entitled to due process.
“Anytime somebody is accused of something, they have the right to have a hearing, and they look at did they violate any school system policy,” Dudley said according to the Prince George’s Sentinel.
However in acknowledging the need for a fair hearing, people like Goldson and Dudley don’t want the fair process to be confused for an endorsement of Sale’s behavior.
“Notwithstanding, let me be abundantly clear: Any employee who does not recognize, value and celebrate the value of our diversity has no place in our community of schools,” Goldson said.
The Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) system is predominantly Black, accounting for 58 percent of the student population. In fact White students only make up four percent of PGCPS students. Thus, parents, colleagues and leaders are concerned about Sale’s placement in any PGCPS institution.
“I would imagine the teacher is not going to have the same reputation or relationship with her students and also her colleagues that she works for so I think it would probably be best that the school system does take action on it,” newly elected District 2 Board of Education member Joshua Thomas told The Sentinel. “As far as what that action specifically looks like, I can’t say for sure, but something needs to happen. It would be wrong for this situation just to be swept under the rug.”
Dudley emphasized Sale’s actions as a didactic moment.
“I hope that they use this as a teachable moment and teach,” Dudley said according to The Sentinel. “The Student Safety Task Force has one of its recommendation that there would be cultural bias training for staff and students, it was cut out of the budget. I’m not saying that would prevent anybody from doing anything, but we can teach our children not to act in a certain way and what is the correct behavior.”
While Lennon wants to see Sale removed from her position, she said, “Maybe she can come to some conclusion in her mind that she’s going to live peacefully and she’s not going to treat people differently or use hateful words just because someone is a different race or ethnicity or religion or anything like that.