Racist or just clueless?

by gabslheureux on September 9, 2015 - 12:46pm

In the article entitled “School Principle Fired after Racist Remark about Black People at Graduation” (Huffington post, May 14th 2015) written by Hilary Hanson explains the controversial phrase that principle Nancy Gordeuk blurted out in front of colleagues, parents and students. On a Friday night in May a graduation ceremony was being held at TNT Academy in Stone Mountain for their senior year class. During the program principle Nancy Gordeuk had made a mistake and dismissed everyone before the class valedictorian got to say his/her speech. After realizing the mistake she had made she attempted to fix it and tried to keep everyone in the room that the ceremony was being held in. Although her attempts were noted she realized that people were still getting out of their seats and leaving the ceremony regardless if it had ended or not. Thus causing her to be outraged, she blurted out a comment that she didn’t realize could be considered racist, it caused shock, disrespect and disgust. The comment making a direct hit towards black people, where she clearly stated that they were the only ones that were leaving the ceremony early. Hilary Hanson concluded that although Nancy was searching for forgiveness from her fellow peers who she had offended, Nancy was unfortunately relived from her job as principle due to the decision of the board of directors.

The article written by Hilary Hanson depicting the story of a principle that made a mistake that cost her her job is an article that makes you realize how some people are unaware of the repercussions of their actions/verbal use. When Nancy said “Look who’s leaving! All the black people!” In her apology/explanation she explained how she didn’t know that saying “black people” could be considered a racist phrase. Even though that is clearly a racist thing to say, it is not correct; in the reading “Race without Color” written by Jared Diamond it explains how “Races defined by body chemistry don’t match races defined by skin color”. Over all the article had strong and valid points, making the article clearly aimed against the principle for what she had said/done and also being in favor of her losing her position as principle. The only point that I disagreed with was the last sentence that the writer put at the end of her article. “Gordeuk made rude remarks throughout the ceremony, including saying that the mouth of a crying baby should be taped shut.” I find that this point is useless in the topic that the writer is supposed to be talking about; she used this point to just make Nancy look bad there is no correlation between her making a remark about a baby crying and making a racist comment.

Reference: Hanson, H. (215, May 14). School Principal Fired After Racist Remark About 'Black People' At Graduation. Retrieved September 5, 2015.


I must say, I was tempted to respond to this text simply because of its title alone; it was eye-catching to say the least. I think that this article is a great depiction of what can happen to someone when they blurt out something incredibly silly at the wrong place and the wrong time. Whether or not this principle sincerely made a mistake or is simply racist is hard to say- ex-principle Nancy Gordeuk states that she didn’t know that calling African Americans was deemed as a racist comment. It seems as though she doesn’t really understand the weight of her words. Gordeuk is right in stating that there is nothing wrong with calling someone a ‘black person’- it refers to the color of their skin only. However, this is not why her comment is racist: it is mainly due to the generalization of the comment, and double meaning that it carries. Gordeuk’s comment implies that Black people have no manners or are incapable of listening. If she really believes that people were offended because they were called ‘black’ then she is either clueless or trying to save her own skin. Hilary Henson, the author of the article most certainly thinks the latter; which is the reason why she included the comment that the principle had been making rude comments all evening long, meaning that the author is implying that her temper was quite negative. I do however think that it was an impulsive comment; when looking at the video, we can clearly see that Gordeuk is frustrated. This whole story reminds me a bit of the Michael Richards stand-up scandal that occurred a couple years ago; in which the comedian made racist comments towards a black audience member during a stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory in 2006. He later apologized for the event, stating that he wasn’t thinking of what he was saying. Whether Michael Richards is actually racist is up to the individual. Either way, the principle’s methods at regaining control of the audience are terrible, and it makes me wonder if there are cases of similar events occurring but with no repercussions for the perpetrator’s words or actions.

362 Words.

After reading this response, I feel very confused about the problem being discussed, which is why I chose to address it. I feel that such an issue is very ambiguous, in the sense that saying something you don't really mean out of anger should not always be taken so seriously. There is no doubt that what the principle said is wrong and disrespectful. It was clearly aimed at a minority group, and I could not agree more that it was not acceptable. As discussed many times in class, any comment that devalues a racial minority group is very sensitive and can have very negative outcomes. However, if everyone that ever says something disrespectful out of anger was fired from their job, regardless of their competence and how well they accomplish their work, then the world would be missing out on a lot of great and brilliant people. It simply seems exaggerated that due to the nature of her comment, she was fired. I can’t help but wonder if saying something like “oh look, all the elderly are leaving”, which is a minority group also, would have gotten her fired as well. Perhaps in the circumstances, the right thing to do was to let her go, but after her apologizing and clearly stating that this was said out of anger due to the disrespectful actions these people were doing, was it really necessary to do so? Would the outcome have been the same if the comment was aimed at a minority group but simply had nothing to do with race, such as the elderly? I really wonder.

I have to say that your title really caught my attention and I have got to make this comment because it is very common nowadays, especially in places like North America where racism is generally supposed to be perceived as a negative thing and even more something illegal, to excuse oneself for being racist by saying such things as "Oh! I didn't know that was racist." or "It was a joke. Lighten up." Even though racist comments, jokes or acts may come from ignorance, they still remain racist because they and the person who says them are prejudice and encourage a system which oppresses a certain group because of their race. Gordeuk was plain pretending to be oblivious by saying that she didn't know that saying "black people" was racist and leaving out the fact that she mentioned them and put them in a negative spotlight by rhetorically and reproaching saying "Look who's leaving! The black people!" I am pretty sure she knows what she did by saying that. I have to disagree with you one the part that saying "black people is racist". I might be wrong but I don't think being afraid and getting rid of the word "black" to describe people of colour leads to any good since saying "white people" isn't considered offensive neither racist. Being of a certain skin colour does physically describe people and being color blind isn't actually to see everyone as the same color but to accept everyone and love everyone equally regardless the color. Why is it shameful to call someone black when they actually are people of colour. I find that more offensive. It's like saying that it is an unmentionable thing and only being white is right. What I do find racist is her singling out "black people" and insinuating that they were once again the only ones that were doing something wrong. I think we can all almost be one hundred percent sure that she wouldn't have said "Look who's leaving! All the white people" even though all the people who have left her speech were white. I think it would have been a good idea to talk about the fact that there is something called intentional ignorance and that we should never excuse ourselves because we were "ignorant". We live in a society where the internet and every easy resource is at our disposal and we should have the responsibility to educate ourselves or too many unacceptable things might become acceptable. A lot of students in universities all over North America have done blackface and excused themselves by saying it was not intentionally racist. This should be unacceptable regardless any intention when there is such a history with this where people not that long ago used this to dehumanize black people by making them seem animalistic, ugly and not human.

I have heard of this article before and I’m glad you decided to address it. I agree with you on this issue that has happened, but I l believe that the principle should've kept the comment to herself because clearly if she didn't state that the black people were leaving than all this wouldn't have happened. At the moment though, it is very possible that she wasn’t thinking very straight at the moment when she blurted that out. These days’ there’s a lot of hate and racial crime going around which probably caused this to be such a racial problem. And the way she said it, makes sense why so many people got outraged by this. She made it seem as if this is a regular thing that black people do but, she didn’t need to address that all the black people were leaving because I’m sure that not all of them left but only some. the fact that she tried to pass this off as clueless is odd because how does one not see how what she said not racist? next time she knows now that you should not always comment on everything.