It’s not just police officers that are facing accountability for racist actions after the historic verdict convicting officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd.
Today the world got news of the firing of a white school bus driver in St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana after she made a blatantly racist comment to an 11-year-old Black student racing to catch his bus last week.
According to a report by local TV station WWL, the unidentified driver had scolded Rashad Gabriel when the student arrived with his face mask having slipped below his nose after having run to board her bus.
The 11-year-old Gabriel was explaining to the driver that he was out of breath from his sprint when she responded with a comment that was described by local School Superintendent Doris Voitier as, at best, “racially insensitive.”
“Since George Floyd, that’s what you all say, but I don’t see a knee on your neck,” the unnamed school bus driver said.
Unfortunately for the driver, her comments were recorded on the school bus’s onboard camera and confirmed after Rashad Gabriel told his mother about the incident who promptly reported it to school officials.
“I’m like, ‘Are you sure she said that?’ He said, ‘Yeah, all the kids on the bus heard it,’” Gabriel’s mother recounted.
The mother was devastated by the news of the verbal exchange.
“I just started crying. Because she….excuse me. Don’t make him feel inferior. He’s not inferior to nothing. He’s equal to any of those students on that bus,” she recalled. “I get chills right now. It hurt me. It hurt me,” the mother continued.
The following week, Mrs. Gabriel drove her son to school to avoid encountering the offending driver again and reported the comments to school officials.
Confronted about her comments, the driver admitted having made the remarks and soon found herself suddenly unemployed.
While she could not reveal whether the driver actually resigned or was terminated due to the matter being a private personnel issue, School Superintendent Voitier confirmed that the offending driver is no longer employed by the district.
“She no longer works for our school system,” Voiter told WWL in a telephone interview. “I can’t defend that. I don’t condone that. What she said is offensive and inappropriate. It was racially insensitive. And we took appropriate action.”
The mother of the student who faced the offensive comments was happy with the resolution of the matter.
“It made me relieved that I know she’s no long on the bus with my son or anybody else’s child,” Mrs. Gabriel said.
While right-wing media likes to deny the existence of systemic racism, incidents like this one show that one does not have to look very far in America to find the specter of racism hovering about.
With so many people eagerly gobbling up the torrent of right-wing propaganda feeding their deepest fears about people who don’t look and act exactly like themselves, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of education to rid America of the scourge of racism.
If we are to survive as a nation, however, it is imperative to expunge this hateful ideology from our consciousness.
You can watch the WWL report on the incident in the video below.
Original reporting by Mike Perlstein at WWLTV.com.
We want to hear what YOU have to say. Scroll down and let us know in our comment section!
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.