Coatesville Superintendent Loves saying Nigger

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Former superintendent Richard Como

That’s Richard Como. For about eight years, he was the superintendent of the Coatesville Area School District.

Coatesville is a steel town, about an hour from Philadelphia. The guys from The Dead Milkmen grew up there. So did a bunch of other celebrities that I’ve never heard of. In fact, if I hadn’t grown up thirty miles from the place, I don’t think I would know it existed. But after today, a lot of people are going to know exactly where it is.

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Former athletic director Jim Donato

Como stepped down about a month ago, along with athletic director Jim Donato. At the time it was a head scratcher. Who steps down at the beginning of the school year?

His resignation letter was warm and professional. He thanked the right people, and then kind of rode off into the sunset, leaving people to wonder, “what the hell?” The district is one of the most diverse in the Philadelphia area, with close to fifty percent Black students.  Like a whole lot of other districts, it’s faced some troubles. But nobody expected this.

Today some texts came out. A lot of them. You can seem them here.

I tried to read through them all. I didn’t make it. Not all of it makes sense. There are a lot of inside jokes going on, mixed with shop talk and veiled references to people I’ve never heard of. And a lot of “n words”.

I counted the word fifteen times, and then gave up. They also referred to the firings of Black staff members as, “good lynchings.” They spoke of a woman who was in a relationship with a Black co-worker, thusly, “What the fuck with all these white pieces taking nigger cock? Me no understand!” They called her lover Caesar. Planet of the apes reference?

This is what they said about the kids.

“All should just have whatever first names they want…then last name is N—-R!,” Donato wrote to Como. “Leroy N—-r, Preacher N—-r, Night train n—-r, clarence n—-r, Latoya n—-r, Thelma n—-r and so on.”

“Great idea!” Como responded. “Joe n—-r bill n—-r snake n—-r got a nice ring to it.”

It goes without saying that they didn’t say, “n dash dash dash dash r”.

All of these texts took place on district issued cell phones. If they hadn’t, nobody would know they existed.

Now the superintendent is under investigation by the district attorney. Why? I’m not sure. It’s not because of the texts, though. They are reprehensible, but not illegal.

A local TV reporter, Jenn Bernstein, referred to the texts as “racially insensitive.” See for yourself, here.

I remember asking a Japanese student if a lot of the people at her High School practiced karate. I was genuinely curious. I was also racially insensitive. That time when my white coworker said that my “dreglocks” made me look just like Buckweat? Insensitive. (She came in the next day, red faced, and embarrassed; holding my hand as she apologized.)

These two guys are straight racist. It doesn’t matter if tomorrow we find out that Como saved a whole orphanage of little Black kids from a burning building. If and when a few Black athletes come out, calling Donato the best coach they have ever played for, it won’t change a thing. Their texts show their intent plainly. They’re both racist. And the kids in Coatesville deserve much better. And I mean all of the kids.

Last month I wrote about the lengths my wife and I have gone to find the best school fit for our kids. You can read that here.

This piece is about my troubled relationship with the word, nigger. I don’t use it often. To me it is a slur, not a term of endearment.

I wrote this piece about another school district with troubled leadership. Their dress code all but excluded natural hair for their little students. As a result, they sent home a straight A student for having locs.

They were Black. Incompetence knows no color.