The so-called post-racial America is still a work in progress.
More than 36,000 people have signed a petition calling on the New York Department of Education to fire a principal, Minerva Zanca, who reportedly made a series of racial remarks, calling black teachers “gorillas,” and “big-lipped” with “nappy hair.”
New York educators and parents want Minerva Zanca, principal at the Pan American International High School in Queens, New York, to be terminated immediately after two African American teachers, John Flanagan and Heather Hightower, filed complaints about Zanca and were fired shortly afterward.
“Two of the teachers, who were fired, say they were victims of harassment and that their poor performance ratings were a result of racial discrimination,” according to The Huffington Post. “Another teacher, who quit, said she also felt targeted because of her race.”
In a witness statement, the school’s assistant principal, Anthony Riccardo confirmed their claims. He said Zanca called the teachers “gorillas,” and made comments about their “big lips” and “nappy hair,” according to WNYC.
“We’re the only African American teachers, and all three of us have left – which means there is no African American teachers at the school when over half the population of the students look like us,” Lisa-Erika James, the teacher who quit, told CBS New York.
“We really just want them to hold the principal accountable,” John Flanagan, who was fired, told DNAinfo.
A longtime friend of James, Kevin Powell, started the petition on Change.org after learning about the discrimination his friend was facing at Pan American. More than 36,000 people have signed on to the petition, including parents and community members.
“I find it unacceptable that a principal can engage in this kind of conduct without any repercussions,” Powell said. “We are not going to stop until due justice and process is served here.”