Monday, February 02, 2015

White public official in Virginia calls African American reporter 'boy' in response to article

Upset about a story written by a local reporter alleging an open meeting violation, a white official in Augusta County, Virginia, (Family Search map) referred to the African American reporter as "boy" last week during a public meeting, Megan Williams reports for The News Leader. "At a staff briefing (Jan. 26) Augusta Supervisor Tracy Pyles told News Leader government reporter Calvin Trice, 'You got it wrong, boy—uh, son.' Four other supervisors at the meeting either said they didn’t hear Pyles or wouldn’t comment. However, Pyles admitted to referring to Trice as 'boy' and called it an 'error,'" saying that he refers to everyone like they're his sons, including reporters.

"The Rev. Mildred Middlebrooks, a Waynesboro NAACP president for 27 years, said the slur by Pyles was an example of how racism is still alive," Williams writes. Middlebrooks told her, “The term ‘boy’ has been in usage for such a long time. There are some things that die, and there are some things that seem to be like the phoenix bird that have a rebirth whenever the person using the term . . . has a sense of big-headedness, power.” Middlebrooks "said that for a black man to be called 'boy' in 2015 begs the question of how far we’ve come in racial relationships." Middlebrooks told her, “Especially if an elected official is harboring these kinds of thoughts."

Trice, who has covered the board for four years, said he was expecting a reaction from Pyles but that this was “the first time it got uncomfortably personal," Williams writes. He told Williams, “The context was obviously angry, and that’s a term that when it’s been used against me was a racial slur, a put down.” Pyles did call Trice the next day to apologize. Trice told Williams. "He did mention, and he seemed to be sincere, that he hoped I haven't felt any different from any other member of the media . . . and honestly that's true. It meant a lot that he said it." (Read more)

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