A black school resource officer in Tampa, Florida, was fired after he was caught using the n-word on multiple occasions, according to authorities.
The fired officer, Delvin White, had been with the Tampa Police Department for eight years, the department said in a release on March 2.
At the time of his firing, White was serving as a school resource officer at Middleton High School.
The department said that on Nov. 13, 2020, White was heard on body camera footage referring to a particular group as “ghetto n*****s.”
White used the slur while on the phone driving home from an off-duty assignment that day, the Tampa Bay Times reported, adding that he repeated the slur while on the phone with his wife.
After the officer came under investigation for that incident, he admitted to his supervisor that he also had used the n-word during a trespassing arrest on Nov. 30, 2020.
Body camera footage revealed White had said the word twice during the arrest, the department said.
“Derogatory statements made by police officers jeopardize the trust that our department works to establish with our community,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said.
“Tampa Police officers are held to a higher standard, and incidents like this negatively impact the entire law enforcement profession.”
It seems obvious that using the n-word is never appropriate for an officer. However, White’s response shows just how twisted our culture has become.
White said he used the word as it is “commonly used in today’s society as a means of shared culture and experiences among the African-American community,” the New York Post reported.
That view of the derogatory word has been encouraged by popular culture in America. Black rappers use the word endlessly as they climb to the top of the charts, while white men have their careers ended for uttering the word.
Recently, country music superstar Morgan Wallen effectively was canceled for using the n-word in his driveway in a video captured by TMZ. His music was pulled from most major radio groups almost immediately, and his label Big Loud suspended his contract “indefinitely,” Billboard reported, citing the Black Music Action Coalition.
In a Feb. 5 letter obtained by Billboard, the coalition said not only that Wallen’s punishment was justified, but that more action needed to be taken.
“The group effort from the country music community that we are witnessing is an example of what can be done when we choose to oppose racism,” the coalition said.
“While we are heartened by this community endeavor, we know that there are deep-rooted racist practices and beliefs within the country music sphere, and the incident with Morgan Wallen is only one small example.
“There is much more to be done to continue to raise anti-racist awareness, to demolish racism wherever it is encountered, to achieve racial equality, and to support Black country music artists and Black country music executives.”
In contrast, the response to White’s firing was that it was too harsh, at least as far as the Tampa Police Benevolent Association was concerned.
“The facts in the Delvin White matter do not reflect an act or any intent that warrants the punishment he received for his alleged transgression,” the group said in a statement on Facebook.
“Officer White is a beloved and trusted member of the East Tampa community that he was raised in and that he protected every day. Despite his misstep, throughout the investigation, private citizens and other individuals associated with his school contacted the Chief of Police lending their support and reflecting their admiration for his character and contributions.”
Official PBA Statement on the Officer Delvin White Matter
We stand with the City of Tampa and the Tampa Police…
The Tampa PBA might be right. While punishment certainly is necessary, the point could be made that firing someone for using the n-word is too harsh. After all, second chances are important.
The problem is that these “second chances” seem to only apply when the person using the word is a minority. Officer White might deserve a second a chance, but why does the same logic not apply to Wallen?
When a black person uses the n-word on duty, it’s a “misstep.” When a white person uses it at his own house, it’s a sign of deep-rooted systemic racism that needs to be stopped.
There is no excuse for using derogatory terms, no matter what your skin color is. The sooner we start treating the use of such words the same no matter who utters them, the sooner we can address the real issues of racism.
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