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Tony Collins and Dr. Carrie Rosario

Source: Greensboro Zoning Commission / Greensboro Zoning Commission

Black women endure microagressions or swallow full on racism every single day in their work spaces or merely existing in the world. But rarely are they recorded for the world to see. And even more infrequently do they result in the appropriate punishment for the person who enacted them.

But thankfully, that was the case for Dr. Carrie Rosario.

According to The Charlotte Observer, a white official in North Carolusina was fired because he refused to use the honorific in Dr. Rosario’s name. And the whole thing was televised.

Tony Collins was a member of the Greensboro Zoning Commission before he was removed by the City Council for his disrespect toward Rosario, an associate professor at UNC-Greensboro.

The incident took place at the end of a four-hour Zoning Commission meeting. During the meeting, Rosario expressed her concerns about a new development project near her home.

As Collins claimed that Rosario’s response veered off topic, he called her Mrs. Rosario.

She immediately corrected him.

“It’s Dr. Rosario, thank you sir.”

Collins continued ignoring her request. “If Mrs. Rosario has something…”

“Dr. Rosario,” she corrected again.

“Well, you know, I’m sorry. Your name says on her ‘Carrie Rosario.’ Hey Carrie.”

Again, Rosario persisted. “It’s Dr. Rosario. I would’t call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called.”

Collins, being unnecessarily rude at this point said, “It doesn’t really matter.”

Rosario said, “It matters to me. And out of respect, I would like you to call me by the name that I’m asking you to call me by.”

Collins still refused. “Your screen says Carrie Rosario.”

Thankfully, Rosario was not dissuaded.

I’m verbalizing my name is Dr. Carrie Rosario. And it really speaks very negatively of you as a commissioner to be disrespectful.”

Collins said he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. Still, he never addressed Rosario as doctor.

You can watch the exchange in the video below.

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This portion of the meeting was played during a City Council meeting last week and it was determined that Collins would be relieved of his duties as zoning commissioner.

City Councilwoman Sharon Hightower led the charge by calling the vote on Collins’ removal. She told The Charlotte Observer, “It was a very disrespectful exchange between an important commissioner and a public citizen. That should never happen.”

Later, in an interview with McClatchy News, Hightower said, “As a Black female, I am not going to see another Black female treated in this manner.”

Rosario was shocked by the council’s decision to remove Collins and attributed it to having diverse representation in elected bodies of government.

She told McClatchy, “It was a welcomed surprise. I do not believe his actions reflect the type of behavior the public needs or expects from its elected or appointed leaders.”

Rosario has a similar exchange with another council member who failed to identify her correctly. But when she corrected this person, they immediately apologized and called her Dr. Rosario. Collins was on the call. Rosario said his refusal, especially after watching another council member, was a “personal attack of disrespect.”

“I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at first and corrected him, but as the exchange unfolded it was clear that he was intent on disrespecting me. I was hurt, upset, angry — because this was a public forum — and the public should feel safe to be themselves, to present their concerns, and feel respected in the process.”

Reportedly, on Wednesday, after he had been dismissed from the zoning commission, Collins left Rosario a message apologizing for his actions.

Rosario also spoke about how her experience with Collins was not unique for Black women all over this country.

“I would love to say that people don’t operate off of appearances, but that has not been my experience. Black women, regardless of level of education, are consistently dismissed and overlooked or judged in our society.”

Rosario said systemic racism is what “made me even feel like I had to use my title in the first place.” She also said it was the reason she came prepared for the presentation, “so as not to appear to be the stereotyped ‘angry Black woman.’”

“I cannot judge what is in Mr. Collins’ heart, nor would I presume to, but I will say that racism as a system devalues and dismisses Black women — and Mr. Collins’ actions were evidence of the microaggressions that we face on a regular basis just trying to go about our daily lives,” Rosario said.

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