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My mistake, it must be racist millennium

Out there in awesomely racist Pennsylvania, Coatesville Area School District superintendent Richard Como and Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato were just swapping knee-slapping text messages back and forth, as rednecks are wont to do on phones they barely understand how to use. One catch is that they were using phones issued by their employers, and when their IT assistants went about upgrading their phones, they discovered the messages. And whoa, the messages…don’t read them unless you really want to learn just how racist and sexist state employees in Pennsylvania can be.

Como has retired. Donato has abruptly resigned.

It’s the ugly season, I guess.

Comments

  1. =8)-DX says

    Don’t overdo it. Hopefully the 3rd post-Jeebus millenium wont be all racist. There is an atheist, egalitarian, humanitarian, secular utopia somewhere out there.. let’s bet on the 2160s..

  2. iceclimbr says

    All of us aren’t like that…remember the old adage: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Kentucky in the middle. You are talking about the Kentucky part….

  3. terminus says

    I teach biology in the neighboring school district, coached football against Donato, and my wife (and her siblings) went to school with him. I’ve long known of rumors that he was more than just a racist (embezzling $$, sexual misconduct with teenage girls). Rumors are just that, but we can all recognize trends.

    What I find despicable is that he has always been able to find work because no one – at the administrative level – did the right thing when called for references.

    Please don’t judge all PA state employees/Chester County residents by the actions of these two cretins.

  4. bryanfeir says

    […] when their IT assistants went about upgrading their phones, they discovered the messages.

    To quote from the article on this at Slacktivist:

    For Como and Donato — two of the highest-paid executives in charge of the Coatesville Area School District — women are not people. African Americans are not people. Jews are not people. Hispanics are not people. Arabs are not people. (That last one seems to have brought on their encounter with karma, as the texts were discovered by “a member of the district’s IT department,” who seems to be the same person they ridicule in their texts with the usual anti-Arab slurs.)

  5. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Iceclimbr @3:
    Racism, (like sexism) has permeated society deeply enough that to grow up without having absorbed some racist beliefs would be a great accomplishment. People in PA are as likely to have racist views as people in KY.
    Also, while you are right that not all people in PA are like that, neither are all people in or from KY that overtly racist. I am unfamiliar with the adage you used, but it comes across as a defense of PA at the expense of KY, which is not fair at all.

  6. PatrickG says

    In the linked article, there’s another link to a sample of the texts. If you still have hope for humanity, do not click through to the actual texts. I used an entire bottle of brain bleach after that.

    @ iceclimbr: In Kentucky, we preferred to say that once you left Louisville or Lexington you’d driven into Pennsylvania.

  7. PatrickG says

    @ Tony!: Thanks for the lesson on remembering to refresh before posting. Your take is a bit less snarky, I’ll say. :)

  8. iceclimbr says

    Sorry, poor attempt at saying “we’re not all like that in PA”. PZ’s statement “the awesomely racist Pennsylvania” however is just as blunt…

  9. Socio-gen, something something... says

    I was born, raised, and spent most of my life in the northeastern corner of PA. Attitudes like this are prevalent throughout the state, particularly in the “T.” The only things unusual about this are that people outside of Coatesville heard about it and that these men actually lost their jobs, instead of the district issuing a non-pology and promising sensitivity training.

    While I was back home this summer, the Troy Fair had a vendor selling (briskly) a t-shirt with a Confederate flag and the message “If this shirt offends you, GOOD!” I was verbally attacked by a man who was angry that I had been talking with the African-American bathroom attendants* while having a cigarette. (I’m a sociologist; I talk to strangers.) A crowd gathered around as some of the most vile, dehumanizing things I’ve ever heard in my life were flung at me and these four people of color, and not one person spoke out. Not one. Most were busy nodding their heads in agreement.

    A one-time event in my life, but how common must it be for those four people? When I talked about it, people were very quick to defend the guy — all the while claiming they “weren’t racists, but…” Sure, not all the people of PA are like that or like these school officials, but there are damned few Pennsylvanians speaking out against them, and way too many who are excusing or minimizing it, and these attitudes have been and continue to be passed on to each new generation.


    * Yes. In a county that is 98% white, the only African-Americans to be seen at one of the largest events in the county were the bathroom attendants.

  10. Rey Fox says

    Well, you know what they say about State X. It’s Major Urban Area, and then Deep Southern State everywhere else.

  11. Rey Fox says

    Meanwhile, we better check with the Condellites to make sure we have genuine capital-R racism here.

  12. eigenperson says

    Is Pennsylvania not awesomely racist?

    Sure, there are probably some people (maybe a vast majority) of people there who are not racist. But, to the people who worked with these guys, it doesn’t much matter whether a large percentage of Pennsylvanians are not racist, because Como is the one who controlled their destinies. And I’m guessing that a large number of Pennsylvanians who “aren’t racist but” are busily defending Como and Donato now, and probably did so repeatedly while they still held their positions.

    So maybe not everyone in Pennsylvania is racist, but Pennsylvania can still be — just like not everyone in Texas is a Republican, but it’s still a red state.

  13. says

    Rey Fox #11

    Well, you know what they say about State X. It’s Major Urban Area, and then Deep Southern State everywhere else.

    Well, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that rural white folks tend to be a bit more open and unabashed about their racism than the more urban sort; in cities you get less of the confederate flags and N-words and more ‘Those People’ and “Bad part of town” and the like (also a bit more looking around to make sure there’s only white people nearby before saying something blatantly racist).

  14. consciousness razor says

    Well, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that rural white folks tend to be a bit more open and unabashed about their racism than the more urban sort; in cities you get less of the confederate flags and N-words and more ‘Those People’ and “Bad part of town” and the like (also a bit more looking around to make sure there’s only white people nearby before saying something blatantly racist).

    I’m not sure how accurate that is. I hear a lot of that sort of “Minnesota-nice” from rural people around here. And I’m not from Minnesota. Nor are Minnesotans big-city folk, for that matter, assuming it’s true they do tend to be “nice.” (But I guess in my case, some of that weaseling might have to do with some of them knowing I won’t stand for that kind of shit.)

    You hit on something of an alternative in your parenthetical, though. It might be that rural people are more segregated, which gives them more opportunity to use more open and direct language amongst themselves. It’s not so much about differences in the people themselves, but in their circumstances. For the same reason, city-people aren’t by their very nature less-unabashed about their racism whenever they get the chance, which is also consistent with my experiences. That’s also how I see it play out when it comes to sexism and homophobia: you get “locker room talk” among men and boys, which you’d rarely hear in “mixed company.”

  15. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    Y’know, if it weren’t for all the racial slurs, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell that there was any racism in that. It’s hard to tell if someone’s being racist when ninety percent of what they say is utterly nonsensical gibberish.

    What the fuck was up with them saying “Caesar” arbitrarily? Did they know someone named Caesar, or is that some kind of slang? I could probably tell by context clues if these two had any idea how to speak English, but apparently they learned some form of regional dialect that involves dropping every third word and deciding what things mean completely arbitrarily.

  16. unclefrogy says

    them was “my people” I grew up suburban (compton Ca. was segragated at the time.) sounded just like a lot of the guys I knew as a kid
    nice to see them shown the door
    uncle frogy

  17. John Pieret says

    You’d think someone who is a school district superintendent would have a tad more sense.

    Cumo was making $197K+. I flatter myself that I’m not a moron … so why ain’t I making at least 3X what he was? Worse, since he “retired,” he will, no doubt, be getting a heafty pension financed by the public.

  18. says

    CR #16

    It might be that rural people are more segregated, which gives them more opportunity to use more open and direct language amongst themselves.

    Oh, no might be about it, that’s definitely the case. That said, there might actually be a case to be made that urban* whites are at least marginally less steeped in racism, inasmuch as they’re more likely to have actually interacted with POCs in significant numbers, and also based on the number of previously urban whites who fucked off to the ‘burbs to avoid having to live near black people. One might suppose that those who remained were a somewhat self-selecting group. Note that I don’t mean this at all to say that there’s no racism among urban whites, or even that there’s not very much. Merely that I wouldn’t be surprised if there turned out to be a bit less of it in day-to day conversation.

    *and I do mean urban, not suburban or exurban.

  19. ajb47 says

    As someone who grew up in Philadelphia and lives just outside it now, there are plenty of racists there too. The adage about Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in the middle is true only as far as Rey Fox @11 says — it just so happens that in PA, the urban centers are on the coasts, so the saying fits.

  20. says

    Dalillama:

    That said, there might actually be a case to be made that urban* whites are at least marginally less steeped in racism, inasmuch as they’re more likely to have actually interacted with POCs in significant numbers

    Actually, that tends to deepen racism a great deal. It’s more what CR said, that such racism is often expressed in certain situations, with racists being a bit more careful about where and when they spout off. I grew up with a John Bircher, in Southern California. I can’t speak to other places, but racism runs very deep in SoCal, it’s rampant, and there are plenty of instances where people are quite open about it.

  21. says

    It was only recently that I heard of Pennsyltucky, AKA any part of Pennsylvania that isn’t Philly or Pittsburgh.

    If it helps, racism is alive and well up here in Canada, too. For example, there’s a douche living up the street who’s a proud member of the Christian Heritage Party — basically, if you’re white, straight, Christian and male you have rights, but otherwise fuck yourself — and drives a pick-up truck with the license plate Loyalist — he’s a civil war reenactor — and bumper stickers which effectively convey his contempt for basically everyone. Bonus points for living next to the only black family on our street. I think what really seals the deal of his douchebaggery is his year-round display of a sign saying “Defund abortion.”

    So, y’know, y’all aren’t the only ones dealing with men pining for the good ol’ days of everyone “knowing their place.”

  22. says

    Caine # 23

    Actually, that tends to deepen racism a great deal.

    Ah? I admit, I’m far stronger on the effects, especially economic, of racism than I am on factors affecting it.

    I can’t speak to other places, but racism runs very deep in SoCal, it’s rampant, and there are plenty of instances where people are quite open about it.

    That said, I’m not sure if this is actually a counterexample; SoCal metropolitan areas, along with Arizona, pretty much define exurban sprawl, which I specifically exempted.

    michaelblayney
    #24

    and drives a pick-up truck with the license plate Loyalist — he’s a civil war reenactor

    Which civil war would that be, if I might ask?

  23. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    I hope that the school board can respond, “You haven’t resigned: you’re fired!” and cancel their pension plans. Maybe the money can be reinvested in schools for the citizens who have been paying their taxes to hire those clowns.

  24. Deoridhe says

    “Those people are more racist than us” is simply not a useful way of thinking. It is too prone to false negatives and confirmation bias.

  25. carlie says

    Dalillama, I’m operating on too little sleep to remember what thread it was, but your description of how urban decay happened and how it is tied to racism was clear and brilliant and the best explanation I’ve ever seen. Which I guess is kind of relevant to this discussion on urban v rural racist attitudes right now, which is why I’m mentioning it.

  26. says

    What the fuck was up with them saying “Caesar” arbitrarily?

    I wondered about that too. I think it might be some kind of sexual slang, but I’m not sure what the exact reference is. As you say, they unique communicating other.

  27. says

    [Trigger warning: violence, assault, rape]

    Re: Caesar, Urban Dictionary’s third definition:

    The act of a man being held down and homosexually raped by a teenager.

    I was born in Philly and raised not far from Coatesville, in a so-called “lilly white” suburb. I never even met a person of color until 7th grade. My immediate and extended family (on both sides) are openly, deeply racist. That includes a couple of (now-retired) Philly cops. Neighbors, strangers, pretty much everyone I met through high school: proudly racist.

    After living in NYC for so long and distancing myself, it’s jarring when I go back to that part of the country and hear people speak that way. (Of course, there is racism here too, but in my experience it’s far less open and overt, and when it’s explicit it’s often called out directly.) What’s as strange as it is infuriating is that my mom and my sister don’t think they’re racists. Like Tony said above, we probably all are. But the disconnect between people’s view of themselves and the actual stuff that actually comes out of their actual mouths is astonishing. It may just be the hardest hurdle to overcome.

  28. frog says

    Pennsylvania is sufficiently racist that when I moved to Philadelphia from NYC five years ago, I spent the first 6 months thinking, “What is up with all the overt racism here? Holy shit!” And meanwhile, I knew it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as other parts of the country.

    I mean, NYC has institutional racism as much as anywhere in the USA, but at least there the overt racists know enough to express their racism sotto voce and not to assume every white person agrees with them. In Philly I couldn’t believe the shit people said to me, openly, just because I’m white.

    And yes, I speak out when I hear it. Because I fucking well know better.

    One thing that pleases me, though, is seeing groups of teenagers wandering around together. They rarely consist of a single color population. Looks as if the next generation might be less stupid than their parents.

  29. lochaber says

    And this is an example of one of the reasons I never returned to PA…

    Seriously, I had a high school teacher (in the early 90s) who repeatedly used the term “mulatto” (which I had only previously seen used in porn magazines from the 70s), and a local radio station used to compare mixed race couples to dogs and birds fucking.

    I can’t speak much for Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, but I think there is something to be said for at least having some sense to not broadcast such fucked-up views if one insists on holding on to them.

    I hate that state…

  30. left0ver1under says

    Even money says this story won’t be mentioned more than once on Fox Nuisance, if at all.

    The NON-issue of Lindsey Stone’s free speech being mislabelled as “disrespect” was flogged to death. This story won’t even raise a blip.

  31. Rich Woods says

    @Dalillama #25:

    Which civil war would that be, if I might ask?

    The Seven Years’ War, I’d guess. The North American part of it, anyway. How well it counts as a civil war is another matter, since I vaguely remember a Quebecois acquaintance once describing it to me as the War of Conquest.

  32. Acolyte of Sagan says

    I’ve just had a look at the linked transcripts and a few questions leapt to mind;

    How the hell did those vile racist mysogynists manage to get executive positions in the education system?

    How the hell did those barely-literate hate-mongers manage to get executive positions in the education system despite being about as literate as a piano stool? My wife is dyslexic yet she can write far more coherently than that pair.

    Why weren’t they summarily dismissed, instead of being allowed to resign / retire? Fair enough, the one who resigned may find his future job prospects somewhat limited (at least, I hope so; if not then I could only assume that PA does have a serious problem), but the other one – the retiree – will presumably still qualify for his pension and whatever other benefits a retired state employee is entitled to.