Penny For Your Thoughts: Should Woman Involved In Melee In McKinney Lose Her Job As A Loan Officer?

June 10, 2015  |  

I’d never heard of McKinney, Texas before this week. Maybe you hadn’t either. Of course, we all now know it as the backdrop of the latest infuriating video in the Police vs. Black People saga. (By now, we’ve lost count of all the installments, but we know it has long since surpassed trilogy status.)

As I watched footage of Police Cpl. Eric Casebolt’s assault on 15-year-old Dajerria Becton, I cringed and squirmed in a way that I hadn’t when watching videos of unarmed black men being shot or assaulted. It’s not that I was any more saddened or outraged, but hers was an instance where I could actually put myself in the position of the unfairly accosted. As a black woman who grew up in a suburban neighborhood with plenty of white residents, I saw glints and heard echoes of my teenage self in the video. Especially at the moment when the young girl is sitting on the grass after having been thrown down by her arm and hair, and she recognizes that she’s been treated unfairly. She pounds her first into her palm insisting, “Call my momma now! Call my momma!” At that very moment I yelled, “That’s right!” at the computer screen, because “Call my momma!” is exactly what I would have said. The unabridged translation: “Look, I’m out here looking cute in my frilly-top bikini with my flat stomach and my pool-ready braids. Here y’all come chasing and pulling on me like I killed a baby or robbed a bank…and I didn’t do anything! I’m just being a teenager and having fun with my friends. You’re the ones causing a damn disturbance with all this needless “Get your ass out of here!” shit. Call my momma, fool! No way are you getting away with this!”

Thankfully, the officer didn’t get away with his disturbing behavior. Officer Casebolt has since resigned, but there is a chance that he could face criminal charges. If he hadn’t willingly left his position, the American public surely would have demanded that he deal with swift and serious consequences for his actions. But it turns out that the police officer isn’t the only white adult people want punished for acting irresponsibly and dangerously.

Supposedly, the incident that evoked the “disturbance” that prompted the 911 call was a white woman who was shouting invectives, including “Go back to Section 8 housing” at some of the teens. One of the kids, a young black girl, spoke against the white woman’s cruelty. Presumably, the woman wasn’t too keen on a young black girl talking back to her because she ended up assaulting the teenager.

See, two videos are circulating that capture the weekend’s events. One is the footage of the cop putting his knee in Becton’s back and waving his gun at other teenagers who are nearby. The other video shows an adult white woman, who’s wearing a one-piece black bathing suit with a beach towel wrapped around her waist, scuffling with an unidentified young black girl. It’s unclear whether the woman in the video is the same woman who was hurling the Section 8 insults. Still, the video of this white woman, an adult, hitting a black teenager appears to have caused just as much outrage as the footage of the police officer.

The woman in the video is being accused of using unwarranted and racially motivated force. And the public call for reprisal has evoked an online petition to demand termination by her employer.

Is she a cop? No. Is she a security guard with the gated community where the pool party took place? No. Is she a teacher or someone who works with children? No.

She allegedly works as a loan officer for Bank of America.

Now, call me naive, but I don’t see what grounds Bank of America would have to fire this woman. I also don’t understand what the guiding principal is for those who are calling for her termination. Sure, if the altercation we see on the video took place after the cops had arrived and they’d witnessed the incident where she repeatedly hits the young black girl, then yes, the cops should have detained her, and the young woman whom she hit should have pressed charges. That would be a reasonable legal repercussion for her abhorrent behavior. It is absolutely unacceptable to violently act out against someone because of his or her race.

But why fire this woman from her job at a bank? In fact, why would she need to be punished by her employer at all in this case? She did not appear to be representing Bank of America in any official capacity as a loan officer on that day.

Is it reasonable to require people who aren’t in an official citizen protection, civil order, peacekeeping or otherwise legally authoritative role to always practice racial tolerance? (Just think about that. Require. Always. People who don’t have any legal authority.) Racism itself is not illegal. So there’s part of me that can’t help but wonder if terminating someone based on her demonstrated racial beliefs as evidenced by her conduct outside of work is akin to terminating someone for her religious beliefs when those beliefs weren’t spewed on the job.

Just imagine if you or I were videotaped doing something abhorrent or illegal or both on our day off. Thank God that all the lewd and drunken acts that I’ve committed have been out of view from anyone’s cell phone camera. People do illegal and legally questionable things all the time and still keep their jobs. People obtain DUIs and keep their jobs. People who get arrested for jumping turnstiles keep their job. People receive domestic violence charges and keep their jobs.

In the case of racially motivated incidents against Black people involving lay White person, is it reasonable to unleash the “Off with his head!” brigade and make the same kind of “Fire him!” demands that we’d request for a police officer? I don’t know—and I’m curious to know what you think.

But during these times when anger is the overwhelming and justifiable emotional response we share, I can’t help but feel like we ought to be careful with how and at whom we aim our outrage.

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