A North Carolina city council fired a man for 'white privilege and entitlement' after he refused to address a Black woman by her professional title

·3 min read
Greensboro Council
The zoning commissioner in Greensboro, North Carolina, was removed after he refused a request to address a woman by her professional title. Screenshot via Greensboro Television Network
  • The Greensboro, North Carolina City Council ousted a man for his "white privilege and entitlement."

  • The man, a volunteer on the zoning commission, refused a Black woman's calls to use her "Dr." title.

  • In a virtual meeting, the man told her it "didn't matter" and called her by her first name.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The city council in Greensboro, North Carolina, fired a volunteer who worked as the city's zoning commissioner after he repeatedly refused a Black woman's calls to address her by her professional title during a Zoom meeting. 

The council in a unanimous vote on Tuesday decided to remove Tony Collins, a construction contractor, from the zoning commission after he during a virtual meeting refused to address Carrie Rosario, a UNC-Greensboro professor with a doctorate in public health, as "Dr. Rosario," The Greensboro News & Record reported.

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According to the report, during an April 19 meeting, Collins, who is white, entered a tense exchange with Rosario over the way he addressed her during the virtual meeting. 

According to the report, the interaction occurred toward the end of the meeting when Rosario raised concerns about a proposed development project near her home. Collins told her that the discussion was off-topic and referred to her as "Mrs. Rosario." 

"It's Dr. Rosario, thank you, sir," Rosario said.

"If Mrs. Rosario has something," Collins responded.

"Dr. Rosario," she repeated.

"Well, you know, I'm sorry," Collins said. "Your name says on here 'Carrie Rosario.' Hey Carrie."

"It's Dr. Rosario," Rosario repeated. "I wouldn't call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called."

Collins dismissed Rosario, and said it "didn't matter." 

"It matters to me," she said. "And out of respect, I would like you to call me by the name that I'm asking you to call me by."

But Collins continued to push back.

Rosario told McClatchy News that she had previously corrected another council member during the call, who apologized and corrected himself. She said she viewed Collins' repeated refusal to call by her title "a personal attack of disrespect."

In the council meeting Tuesday, Councilwoman Sharon Hightower said that Collins was exhibiting "white privilege and entitlement" during the exchange, according to the Rhino Times. Hightower made the motion at the Tuesday meeting to remove Collins from his position on the zoning commission.

"It is not going to be tolerated," she told McClatchy News. "As a Black female, I am not going to see another Black female treated in this manner."

The Rhino Times reported that Collins apologized Thursday in an email to the members of the Greensboro City Council.

"I understand from published reports that you voted Tuesday evening to remove me from the Greensboro Zoning Commission because of my behavior at the Zoning Commission meeting Monday evening," Collins wrote. "I agree with you that my exchange with Dr. Rosario was out of line and accept your judgment to remove me from the commission. I have telephoned Dr. Rosario and left a message apologizing for my behavior." 

"There is no good excuse for my interaction with Dr. Rosario so I will not try to offer one," he added. "Citizens deserve better." 

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