Rachel Brothers, a biracial woman has won an $10,200 payout after being fired from her job at the Black Educators Association (BEA) in Nova Scotia, Canada because she ‘wasn’t black enough’.
The educator came to be awarded the sum after Donald Murray, the Chairman of the Board of Inquiry at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, ruled that she was discriminated against because of the color of her skin.
The inquiry would find that Rachel Brothers had been singled out by a subordinate, Catherine Collier, who undermined her because ‘she was younger than, and not as black, as Ms Collier thought Ms, Brothers should be.’
Evidence was given to the board that claimed Collier told Brothers her biracial skin color was a ‘barrier’ in connecting with other black people and that she was ‘too light skinned to ‘officially represent them because she wasn’t black enough’.
Another staff member had told Brothers she ‘should go work for whitey’.
Murray claimed that Brothers was fired from her job in 2006, after less than a year as a regional educator at the association’s Annapolis Valley regional office in Kentville, because her decisions were viewed through the BEA’s ‘colorist thinking’ and behavior.
According to the Chronicle Herald, colorist thinking occurs to ‘someone who believes the closer a person’s skin tone comes to pure white, the better the chances of getting jobs, accommodations and other opportunities available to “actual ‘white’ people.’
‘Colorists,‘ Murray would write, ‘also believe the more visibly black, East Indian, American Indian or Asian a person is, the greater the potential there will be for discriminatory distinctions to be made based on color.’
Murray would tell that Collier, who had applied for the same job as Brothers, would make comments that made Brothers job untenable at the BEA.
Murray said that Brothers was fired from her job because of work decisions the BEA made in which skin color was paramount and ‘the problems that her skin color had created in her office for another employee.’
The board also ruled that acting executive director of the BEA was aware of ‘colorist and ageist comments being made‘ and did nothing to stop them.
It wouldn’t be until 2008 that Rachel Brothers filed her complaint and a further six years before it was heard.
Murray would note that Collier still hated Brothers and displayed ‘a continuing, petty vindictiveness towards Ms. Brothers’ that ‘was, frankly, appalling.’
Whilst BEA had claimed that Brothers had been fired for financial irregularities, Murray would come to find no such evidence, stating that Brothers had come to be fired, because Collier, who took Brothers job, was better placed to work with the BEA’s head office.
The Black Educators Association was founded in 1969 to help African Nova Scotian communities.