GREENSBORO — The City Council on Tuesday unanimously removed a construction contractor from his position on the Zoning Commission after watching a testy exchange between the official and a Black woman who appeared before the group.
Councilwoman Sharon Hightower asked city staff to play a recording of Monday night’s Zoning Commission meeting in which member Tony Collins is seen in an exchange with Dr. Carrie Rosario, who was speaking by videoconference about her concerns on a rezoning that might affect her neighborhood.
Hightower said Tuesday night that Collins, a partner in Collins & Galyon General Contractors in Greensboro, was exercising “white privilege” for refusing to refer to Rosario as “doctor” after she requested that he do so.
In the video, Collins is seen questioning Rosario about the relevance of her comments and referring to her as “Mrs. Rosario.”
“It’s Dr. Rosario, thank you,” she said.
“If Mrs. Rosario has something ...” Collins said.
“Dr. Rosario,” she replied.
“I’m sorry,” Collins said. “Your name says on here Carrie Rosario. Hey, Carrie.”
“It’s Dr. Rosario,” she said. “I (wouldn’t) call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called. That’s how I’m identified.”
“It doesn’t really matter,” Collins said.
“It matters to me,” Rosario said. “Out of respect I would like you to call me by the name I’m asking you to call me by.”
“Your screen says Carrie Rosario,” Collins said.
“My name is Dr. Carrie Rosario and it really speaks very negatively of you as a commissioner to be disrespectful,” she said.
“I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but you’re negotiating something that happened four years ago,” Collins said.
Hightower said after the video, “regardless of whether you agree or disagree, that was disrespectful. This is unacceptable.”
Councilwoman Goldie Wells, who is Black and holds a Ph.D. degree, said that Black women with higher education are not often accorded the advantages that white women with only high school degrees get.
“The thing that has been one of the driving forces for African Americans is education,” Wells said.
After a 30-minute discussion in which Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann offered to speak with Collins about his behavior, Hightower made a motion to remove him from the Zoning Commission.
Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.