Racist Mom’s Attempted Assault Against African American Grocery Store Patrons Gets Her Fired From School District

 

 

by Stacey J. Sage – 3/17/19

In a vile, disgusting, and uninhibited racist tirade, Corrine Terrone, Hamden Public Schools employee revealed what is likely her truest self.  The event took place in an East Haven supermarket, when Terrone went on what appears to be at least a minute and a half long racist rant in which in front of her two young daughters she taunts an African American woman and man.  In the video which was posted on several social media outlets last week, Terrone is seen shamelessly firing the N-word.  Even after an unknown upstander and racism interrupter tries to calm her down and suggests that she should not have used the N-word, she proudly shouts out while walking away: “That’s right I said it!”  Shortly after walking away, Terrone turns around, and while walking back in the direction of the two victims begins to taunt the African American male yelling: “come on, put your hands on me…you’re a N-word in East Haven.”  The obviously enraged and racist mom doesn’t stop there.  As both her daughters watch, Terrone turns around and attempts to assault the victims one last time by spewing a wad of spit in their direction while both victims are walking away.

Racist mom 3 spit

While it is unclear how the altercation began, it’s obvious that Terrone was the aggressor.  East Haven Police Lt. Joseph Murgo released a statement, saying the department “is aware of this disturbing video and the hate speech contained in it” but that no complaint has been filed. The statement also asked that anyone involved in the incident contact East Haven Police Department.  “We have a lot of avenues to go down if somebody were to reach out to us,” Murgo said. “We want somebody to come forward … if they were present Friday night.”  The state of Connecticut has a number of statutes on hate crimes under which Terrone’s crime would fall. The primary criminal statutes are centered around intimidation based on bigotry or bias, and these statutes provide three degrees of penalties. The first degree penalty which states that “a person commits the first degree crime of intimidation based on bigotry or bias if he maliciously and with intent to intimidate or harass another person because of his actual or perceived race,” If the victims do come forward, or even if they don’t and the county or state decides to take appropriate and justifiable action, Terrone could  be facing charges of disorderly conduct, aggravated harassment, attempted assault, and ‘breach of peace’ which together could carry fines upwards of $5,000 and up to six months in jail. African Americans on social media have suggested that with the way that the law typically seems to dip in the favor of white citizens and white women, in particular when an African American male is involved, the two victims may be concerned about coming forward, for fear that they may be wrongfully accused or even counter-charged.

The Hamden School district has taken appropriate action.  The district posted a statement about the incident on its website.

“We have become aware of video footage that appears to show an employee in our district engaged in abhorrent conduct. Specifically, the video appears to show the employee repeatedly calling an African-American man the N-word in a supermarket in East Haven.” The statement goes further to say  “The video also appears to show the Hamden employee spitting at the aforementioned African-American male as he was walking away from the employee. It also appears that the employee’s children witnessed her conduct. Because her children were present, school administrators filed a DCF report…”

In a clear denouncement of Terrone’s racist and terrorizing behavior (Terrone’s own daughter seems to be dreadfully frightened by her mother’s reckless behavior) the district’s statement also describes the consequences of Terrone’s actions.

Racist mom 1“The language the employee used in the video is in conflict with the values of the Hamden Public School System. Someone who will use that sort of language in any setting, whether public or private, is not someone we want anywhere near our children. The employee is separated from service, and we hope that her children will receive the support they need after witnessing such a traumatic event.”

The district’s Human Resource Director had previously contacted Terrone to arrange an investigatory meeting with her. Shortly after final arrangements were made for the investigatory meeting, Terrone pre-emptively rendered her resignation “effective immediately.”

Similar to the district’s stance on the matter, State Sen. Len Fasano and state Rep. Joseph Zullo, both Republicans representing East Haven, issued a joint statement rightfully condemning Terrone’s conduct.

“What we saw in this video is repulsive and deeply offensive and does not represent the people of East Haven or our values. The behavior is shocking and upsetting and has no place anywhere, including in our community,” Fasano and Zullo said in the statement. “We understand Hamden Public Schools has acted quickly to seek this employee’s resignation. East Haven police are also seeking more information and urging any potential victims or witnesses involved to come forward. Hate speech and violence will not be tolerated in our community.”

Thus far, it would at least appear that there is hope for justice in this matter.  If so, Corrine Terrone’s gross display of racism, white privilege, and poor parental judgment, could set a precedent in sending a message to racists who may feel emboldened and/or empowered to commit hate crimes (due to current leadership in our country or otherwise), that they are [not] above the law.

The Bully at Work

by Stacey J. Sage
3/15/2019

A little over a year ago, a friend of mine shared details with me about some of the dynamics that existed between her, her supervisor, and one or two other co-workers.  What she initially described were obvious microaggressions directed at her, meant to serve as brief, quick hitting personal attacks against her.  The derogatory and negative slights eventually progressed into consistent and egregious workplace bullying which ultimately led to my friend needing to take a personal leave from work.  A startling 75% of the workforce is affected by bullying, and only 19% of workers report it.  Of the 19% of bullying that is reported, a very insignificant amount actually sees action of any kind taken.  Workplace bullying is a huge problem for organizations, and yet organizations simply aren’t doing their part in doing what’s required to combat it.

So exactly what dynamics constitute workplace bullying? Workplace bullying  is the unwanted offensive, intimidating, malicious, and/or insulting behavior, and abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied either by damaging their reputation, their self-confidence, or the relationships that the target has formed with others. It is repeated, often times health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (targets) by one or more perpetrators.  It is abusive conduct that can be the cause of work interference and sabotage, which may or may not, but typically prevents work from getting done. Workplace bullying tends to be psychological in nature but can also be physical or even walk a fine line between physical and psychological with certain types of posturing. It can be subtle or outright and is characterized by the following scale: Repetition: occurring regularly; Duration, so that it’s enduring; and finally: Escalatory, as it becomes increasingly aggressive.  Because there is usually a power disparity, the target(s) lacks the power to successfully defend themselves.

The myth that many of us seem to believe is that the targets of bullying are usually the weakest player. However, quite the contrary is true of all types of bullying. It is more often the case that the targets of bullying are often the strongest players, be it on the playground or in the office.  These strongest players typically become targets because something about them is threatening to the bully.  More often than not, the target is more skilled; more technically or otherwise proficient.  The target is also likely to have a higher EQ, as well as organizational veteran/mentor status. The bully on the other hand, will typically tend to be someone whose skills are limited to manipulating and controlling.  They see everything and everyone as competition and typically either do not feel skilled/competent enough to compete on their own merits, or they are actually not skilled/competent enough to compete on their own merits nor build the sorts of workplace relationships where they can work collaboratively to gain the skills and competencies they so desperately seek and need.  As a result, they commit to bullying in a futile attempt to feel more powerful. By using tactics of belittling, blaming, and responsibility shifting, the bully is content in creating the perception of strength

As my friend captivated my attention with her personal story of workplace bullying, one of the things that puzzled me was the fact that while countless incidents of bullying occurred in front of other team members, not one person spoke up on behalf of my friend.  In fact, the exact opposite occurred.  Several co-workers became complicit in their behavior towards her, and in so doing, created and nurtured a climate of bullying, which as covert and bearable as it may sometimes feel for other bystanders, also creates and nurtures an overall hostile work environment.  Much like playground bullying, workplace bullying isolates targets; essentially isolating good and potentially great employees.  Not only does it deteriorates and ultimately destroys company/organizational culture, it ends up costing the organization lots of time and money.

Targets of workplace bullying will experience increased stress and a loss of confidence.  The stress of the bullying will manifest itself as health problems such as anxiety; panic attacks; gastrointestinal issues; chronic headaches as well as chronic fatigue among others.  These health issues will likely lead to time needed and taken off by the target.  In some extreme cases, the target will have no recourse but to leave; leaving the company/organization with the loss of a good employee, and additional costs to back-fill the position.  In the interim, companies risk a significant dip in productivity.

By allowing the bullying to continue, witnesses to it, and the company at large, become complicit in the acceptance and growth of Toxic Workplace Culture.  The employees witnessing the bullying will feel a sense of having to make a choice.  The options being: side with the bully; risk retribution by speaking up; remain silent and pretend that they are not witness to the bullying (which will lead to an internal sense of guilt); or speak out against the bullying and risk backlash; all of which contribute to low performance and low morale in bystanders.  Eventually, the bystander(s) themselves will likely choose to leave. Organizations  where bullying is condoned tend to have higher rates of employee turnover, disengagement, far less revenue per employee, and an increased absence rate, as well as an increase in microaggressions and increased bullying.

Forty-nine US States now have Anti-Bullying Laws.  Five of the forty-nine states do not have any sanctions for bullying in their anti-bullying laws, while twelve states do include criminal sanctions for bullies. However, the language of the laws seem to be largely centered on bullying taking place at school, while workplace bullying is ‘umbrellered’ under harassment laws.  As a result of this, it’s difficult and tricky to hold bully’s and even organizations (where bullying is an acceptable part of the work climate) legally accountable. For this reason, rather than ignoring the problem, companies/organizations and employees alike need to be motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors for acknowledging and eliminating workplace bullying.  Human Resources departments nationwide should be championing hardcore anti-bullying efforts which encourage ‘upstanders’/interrupters.  Some of those efforts can include but should not be limited to setting up anonymous anti-workplace bullying processes in which employees who report bullying that is later substantiated, can be anonymously or publicly recognized for improving the organizational climate. Recognition can come in the form of additional time off, a monetary reward, and/or documented employee recognition.  Even if they don’t feel they can stand up to the bully, ‘upstanders’/interrupters (people who see something and speak up about it or who create alliances with and provide workplace protection for targets by making it obvious that they disagree with the behavior and more importantly, won’t join in) should feel empowered to speak out and stand up against the bullying that they are witnessing.  Companies and organizations should also make it very clear to all employees that their workplace is a bully free zone.  Companies should also have an anti-bullying policy created and indoctrinated as part of their sustainability goals.

As for my friend, she eventually ended up leaving the company she worked for.  She is now an independent contractor who develops and teaches anti-workplace bullying workshops for small businesses.  As an ‘upstander’ I am thankful that she agreed to my sharing just a small portion of what she encountered as the target of “The Bully at Work.”

 

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