Global, Identity

Was it Anti-Semitism or Was it Racism?

In Orange, Texas last week, a parole officer filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice alleging that he had endured, over the prior thirteen years, more than enough racism, and the camel’s proverbial back had been broken:

Freddie Hackney Jr. endured a lot of racial and religious prejudices over the 13 years as a parole officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice before he stood up for himself.
Hackney, 43, filed a lawsuit in February with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division. The suit is against not only TDCJ, but also his former supervisor James Gossett Jr.
Hackney continues to work as a parole officer, but Gossett was reportedly given an ultimatum to resign or be fired and he has since resigned from his job and is now working at a local restaurant.
“I cannot continue to be abused for being born. I will not apologize for being the man God made me. I can no longer continue to be TDCJ’s ‘whipping boy,’” said Hackney in a written statement.
Hackney lost his faith in internal investigations shortly after starting his job. He came into work one morning and found the words “nigger you talk you die” spray painted in large letters on his wall. Everyone in the office was forced to work at alternate location during an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the weeks prior to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Hackney submitted a request in writing to be allowed to take the day off in lieu of another traditional holiday. Gossett advised Hackney he had used the wrong form for his request.
Hackney then submitted a second request to be able to observe in his religious freedoms. However, Gossett refused to sign and approve the requests, according to the petition filed with the court.
However, the petition states two other co-workers were allowed to take off from work to observe Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holiday.

Analysis of the story shows: what Mr. Hackney received at the hands of his co-workers were largely racist in nature, calling him a “gorilla”, “nigger” on the wall, etc. And, might I add, indicative of a brain activity level one usually finds only in the demographic for adult diapers. Mr. Gossett’s crime vis-a-vis the racism was largely a crime of omission. Mr. Gossett’s crime of commission was anti-Semitic in nature, the active denial of equal accommodations for religious sensibilities.
The combination of these two facts makes my heart go out to Mr. Hackney even more. To turn to an authority in the face of racism is quite a hard thing to do — especially when the EEOC, with all of their high-falutin’ official paperwork and pomp, gets called in to investigate a warning of “talk and you die.” But then to find that authority to be anti-Semitic, only to be sent back into the sea of racists?
I think that this coming Passover, considering that Mr. Hackney has only recently become free of his unsafe working environment, for Mr. Hackney to “see himself as if he was just released…from the house of bondage” should prove itself to be an easy mental endeavor. The torture of receiving abuse for two different reasons from two different groups of people at one workplace, I’m sure, was Mr. Hackney’s personal “egypt” this year from which he prayed for redemption. It is also my sincere hope that Mr. Hackney’s case draws attention to the precarious situations of other Jews of color going through similar trials.
And to top it off, Mr. Hackney is not seeking punitive damages, only a public admission that he had been wronged. What a mensch.

11 thoughts on “Was it Anti-Semitism or Was it Racism?

  1. It was Texas for g-d’s sake… And who cares if he was J4J – as if that would make any difference to a bunch of ignorant hicks. Next issue.

  2. CR to say “it was Texas for g-d’s sake” is as bigotted a statement as those who subscribe to the racial steryotypes of blacks. I know plenty of Texans, both Jewish and non – they are as openminded and free of prejudice and you could hope — and I know many Jews and non Jews in my home city of Los Angeles who while self proclaimed liberals and open minded, harbour the most vile thoughts regarding Zionists, observant Jews, and conservatives. So don’t consider yourself openminded by labeling an entire state “ignorant hicks,” you are only showing you are as biased as any KKKer (although obviously not with the same vile effect on society).

  3. For real. I’m a Texan who grew up in a rural area and I’ll tell I’ve found that just as many haters (if not more) come from well educated, suburban families as from “ignorant hick” families.
    Lets not forget a lot of the racist ideas that some Americans hold today were developed among academic elites, not “ignorant hicks”. Education doesn’t make you a better person.
    I would like to add that this case is part of a much larger systemic corruption and inefficiency of the TDCJ System (and the Texas state government as a whole). Texas has what is considered one of the worst prison systems in the country.

  4. “And, might I add, indicative of a brain activity level one usually finds only in the demographic for adult diapers”
    this quote does a serious disservice to some fine people I know who wear adult diapers. why is insulting people with developmental disabilities and/or mental retardation considered ok by the same people outraged by racism and anti-semitism?
    please consider rephrasing or removing the above quote.

  5. I’m a Jew from Houston, so, thanks. I feel for the guy having to deal with such racism but Anti-Semitism, not so much. Getting back to the Texas thing, Jews here have to deal with missionaries and Anti-Semitism at every corner, many of it coming from the J4J (Baptists). The Baptists have these mega-churches down here that have divisions of “Messianic Jews” specifically trained to hunt down and convert Jews, who are already treated as outcasts in many of our workplaces and schools. (Side note: I work for a company owned by a Jew and was still forced to sit through an Easter celebration during our Employee of the Month meeting. I loved visiting my friends in Brooklyn where Jews talked openly about being Jews with no regard to those around them.)
    Also, the J4J missionaries are very open about their beliefs and I’m sure the people in his office knew he was Christian. I think this is all about racism, which still sucks.

  6. I count the people I know who happen to wear adult diapers among some of the most sweet and loving people I know. a comparison between them and racists is just naseating

  7. I am not baptist! all of my hero’s are jewish. can anyone tell me why or why not can I not serve G-D the way I choose without being disrespected. The jewish teacher who gave his life for those young men and women in his class at Virgina Tec is also my hero. It simply did not matter to him at all what “religion” anybody in that class was. My answer is same as his was. I WANT PEACE! and no one has the right to say who when or how I choose pray. My race should not mean anything to anyone least of all people I work with.

  8. Racism is wrong no matter the religion that is practiced, especially from members of a Texas Parole Division District Office. This is a state agency who represents the laws of the state of Texas. The supervisor in charge should be brought to face criminal charges, as well as the employee(s) who destroyed state property by spray-painting the racial comments upon Mr. Hackney’s Office wall. This is just unbelievable that the State of Texas has not acted appropriately by conducting a proper investigation and bringing those responsible to face adequate charges.

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