Shira Hedgepeth is a white woman who worked at a black university up until last July. Hedgepeth claims she was released from her position as Director of Academic Technology at North Carolina’s Winston-Salem State University solely based on the color of her skin.
Hedgepeth joined the university in 2008, and was promoted to her most recent position in 2010. However, she began noticing fellow white employees being let go from the university for no reason, and then being replaced by applicants of different ethnic backgrounds. Her story was similar, as Hedgepeth says she performed her job well, and never received a complaint or negative reprimand. After she was fired, she decided the pattern was far too disturbing, and complained.
Hedgepeth told the Daily News, “In my opinion, had I been African-American, they would not have fired me. They had no documentation of any problem with my employment. I was highly regarded as a qualified employee. It became quite obvious that the mission was that it was a black university and that it should be run by black administrators and black staff.”
What took so long for her story to come out? Well, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) two days following her termination, and they’re just now agreeing with her claims, according to the New York Daily News. The EEOC determined “race, white, was a factor in the terms and conditions of employment and respondent’s (WSSU’s) decision to terminate her employment.”
WSSU disagrees with the finding, and insists that their decision was not based on race or any other discriminatory factor. The university reported due to changes in the department, Hedgepeth’s position was revised and required ”advanced skills in systems and applications programming”, skills she did not possess. Hedgepeth’s supervisor told her the school was “going in a different direction” when she was fired without warning in July 2011.
Is it racism or reverse racism? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, racism is defined as:
A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
Reverse racism is a term which refers to racial prejudice or discrimination directed against the traditionally dominant racial group in a society.
Hedgepeth is still unemployed after the event, and says she is damaged and “will never be made whole.”
BMWK family, what are your thoughts on this news story? Was the school wrong? What are your thoughts on reverse racism?