The zoning commissioner of Greensboro, North Carolina has been removed from his position after refusing to call a Black female professor by her preferred title of “Dr.” During a virtual meeting held via Zoom on Monday, Dr. Carrie Rosario, a professor at the University of North Carolina, joined in as a member of the public to voice her zoning concerns but was met with disrespect when Tony Collins repeatedly refused to acknowledge her as “doctor.”
- Rosario has a doctorate in public health. As Dr. Rosario explained to The Lily, she doesn’t just use the “Dr.” title for no reason – her degree and background “add legitimacy to what I’m saying.” She believed a new development being discussed could have a negative impact on her neighborhood’s drinking water and wanted to discuss this with city council members. However, zoning commissioner Collins was having none of it.
- The exchange was caught on video. At the beginning of the exchange, Collins was dismissive but Dr. Rosario was gracious enough to correct him kindly but firmly. “I think we kind of lost our way on what we’re talking about here. We’re here to approve the standards that have been presented, and if Mrs. Rosario has something about one of those standards,” Collins said. Rosario responded: “It’s Dr. Rosario, thank you, sir.” However, instead of correcting himself, Collins doubled down on his rudeness, saying, “Mrs. Rosario has something about…”
- Dr. Rosario repeatedly corrected Collins but he refused to relent. “Dr. Rosario,” she corrected Collins again, only for him to respond, “Well, you know, I’m sorry, your name (inaudible) … Carrie Rosario. Hi, Carrie.” Not about to give in or let him get away with it, Dr. Rosario again said: “It’s Dr. Rosario. I would call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called. That’s how I identified myself.”
- Collins claimed Dr. Rosario’s preferred title “doesn’t matter.” After he was corrected yet again as to Dr. Rosario’s preferred titled, Collins became indignant, saying, “It doesn’t really matter. We’re here to talk about…” Rosario responded: “It matters to me. It matters to me. And out of respect, I would like you to call me by the name I’m asking you to call me by, thank you.”
- Collins was relieved of his position not long after. The City Council cited “white privilege and entitlement” as their reasons for letting Collins go from the volunteer position. Collins later issued an apology, saying, “There is no good excuse for my interaction with Dr. Rosario.” He added that he left an apology on Dr. Rosario’s voicemail as well. What a jerk.