‘White Privilege At Its Ultimate Finest’: Man Kicked Off City Commission

17228 0

A man was kicked off of the city council after failing to comply with one simple request. Some decried his behavior, calling it “white privilege at its ultimate finest.”

Tony Collins
Tony Collins, a now-former member of the city council of Greensboro, North Carolina, during the Greensboro Zoning Commission virtual meeting (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Tony Collins, a now-former member of the city council of Greensboro, North Carolina, was removed from his position after a unanimous vote to oust the construction contractor from the zoning commission. The decision came after a tense exchange between Collins and a Greensboro citizen during a meeting, in which Collins’ failed to comply with a simple request and was in turn accused of displaying “white privilege.”

During the Greensboro Zoning Commission virtual meeting in question, Carrie Rosario — an associate professor of public health education at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who holds a DrPH (a professional doctoral-level degree in public health) — introduced herself to the commission as “Dr. Rosario.” She then requested Collins address her by her title, but she didn’t receive the response she wanted.

Tony Collins
Dr. Carrie Rosario during the meeting in question. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

After Rosario noted her opposition to a planned development near her home, Collins pushed back against her comments, referring to her as “Mrs. Rosario” while doing so, The Blaze reported. Rosario was quick to correct Collins, saying, “It’s Dr. Rosario. Thank you. sir,” but Collins persisted, calling her “Mrs. Rosario” again. And, again, Rosario corrected Collins.

“Well, you know, I’m sorry,” Collins replied before explaining, “Your name on here says ‘Carrie Rosario.’ Hi, Carrie.” Once again, the black professor shot back, correcting Collins:

“It’s Dr. Rosario,” she demanded. “I [wouldn’t] call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called. That’s how I’m identified,” she added, to which Collins alleged that it doesn’t really matter. “It matters to me,” Rosario countered. “It matters to me. And, out of respect, I would like you to call me by the name I’m asking you to call me by. Thank you.”

In what seemed to be an attempt to explain his mistake, Tony Collins pointed out that the screen for the virtual meeting displayed “Carrie Rosario” as her name, but the professor wasn’t having it. “My name is Dr. Carrie Rosario, and it really speaks very negatively of you as a commissioner to be disrespectful,” she said, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

“I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but you’re negotiating something that happened four years ago,” Collins replied, but after being corrected a total of five times, according to WFMY, it was too little too late, and Collins was lambasted for failing to address the black professor as “doctor,” leaving her feeling “disrespected.” He was also accused of exhibiting “white privilege and entitlement” by fellow council members.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower called Tony Collins’ behavior “white privilege at its ultimate finest.” (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

“[W]hat I saw last night at the zoning commission meeting was white privilege at its ultimate finest. It was absolutely disrespectful,” Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, referring to Collins’ refusal to address the professor by her title. “To dress down an African American female was unacceptable,” she added. Hightower also called Collins’ actions the “ultimate disrespect of black people by one that is white.”

Further expressing the belief that the incident was a race issue, Hightower continued, saying Collins “feels entitled and privileged to say and behave, whatever, with no consequences, and this is what we deal with as African Americans, I get this regularly from other folks, so I know how this feels. To have you dressed down in a public forum is an ultimate insult, and this is nothing but history repeating itself over and over. It’s Jim Crow over and over.”

Other council members were also upset and voted unanimously to remove Tony Collins from his position. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Rosario, of course, agreed, explaining that she introduced herself as a “doctor” intentionally because she is often dismissed as a black woman in a lot of different spaces. She also alleged that this was not “the first microaggression” she experienced.

“[L]ike many times before, it was very frustrating,” Rosario said. “You internalize that, it wears on your body. I could feel that frustration internally building. And, it hurt, that I’m in this public forum trying to do right by my neighborhood, and advocate for our needs, and our voices, and hearing him, feeling disrespected and just belittled in front of the viewers of this live broadcast.”

According to Rosario, Collins reached out to apologize. Although she missed his call, she accepted his apology. Collins also apologized to the city council via email, the Rhino Times reported.

“I understand from published reports that you voted Tuesday evening to remove me from the Greensboro Zoning Commission because of my behavior at the Zoning Commission meeting Monday evening,” Collins wrote, according to the outlet. “I agree with you that my exchange with Dr. Rosario was out of line and accept your judgment to remove me from the commission. I have telephoned Dr. Rosario and left a message apologizing for my behavior.”

Although Dr. Rosario accepted Tony Collins’ apology, she was pleased that he was removed from the council. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Although Dr. Rosario accepted the apology, she was happy with the outcome and Collins being removed from the city council. “I’m happy the city council took swift action to remove Mr. Collins, not for any ill will against Collins, but mostly because I want people to feel comfortable engaging with city leaders and I think now that might be something more possible,” she said, alleging that she wants to send a message about treating others with respect.

“Whether they’re a physician or a nurse, or the janitor, or whatever their experience is or academic training, it’s not up to us to dictate who holds value and who we should respect or listen to, whether they have a title or not,” Dr. Rosario explained. However, that seems contrary to her original complaint. If we should all be treated equally regardless of our title, position, or training, why was she so adamant that hers be recognized? As for Tony Collins’ refusal, it was undeniably rude, but rude doesn’t always mean racist. Only he knows if skin color caused his issue or if this was just ego. Maybe it was a little of both from both people involved.