In the latest edition of how it started/how it’s going, a New Jersey education official apologized for a foul Facebook comment about Vice President Kamala Harris. Nearly three weeks after his offensive post, Gregory Martucci is trying to save face after getting called out for labeling Harris a “street walker.”
Martucci, a Linden Board of Education member, responded to a Facebook post with his derogatory, unhinged commentary. He told a New York NBC affiliate that his comment was not a reflection of who he really was or what he thought.
By entering the comment section of a post by a pro-Trump comedian attacking the vice president, Martucci clearly thought he was in a safe space. My how he was wrong. Weeks after the comment was first posted for Martucci to remember his so-called values.
According to NJ.com, the comment had been edited twice since Martucci first posted on June 8, with the language becoming more inflammatory with each edit. Each version of Martucci’s post included the phrase “street walker” and the pejorative “wingnut.”
Linden School Board President Carlos Rivas denounced Martucci’s posts in a statement to NJ.com.
“I pride myself on respect, equality, and inclusivity, and the misogynistic slurs Mr. Martucci spread across social media are unacceptable, in my opinion,” wrote Rivas. “We’ve come too far to display such a lack of respect for women.”
In a Facebook post of his own, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said it was healthy for people to have opposing political views. But he drew the line at dehumanizing and degrading a person in disagreement.
“What happened in Linden is a teachable moment for all of us,” wrote Armstead. “It is important that we teach our daughters and sons to be confident, to dream big, and prepare them for a world that will not be so kind for their achievements in life.”
More than not being unkind, people like Martucci are used to making such comments without any repercussions.
Such misogynoir aimed at Black women on and offline, including Harris, is not new. Coined by Professor Moya Bailey, misogynoir refers to the unique experience of Black women coupled with racism and sexism.
Simply focusing on either the anti-Blackness or the misogyny of Martucci’s comment does not adequately capture the gravity of his conduct. Black women from all walks of life are subjected to attacks for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it seems like Black women are attacked simply for daring to breathe.
At a time when parents and conservative groups are trying to get rid of diversity, inclusion, and equity in schools, Martucci is showing exactly why these policies are put in place. People like Martucci often confuse freedom of speech with freedom from accountability.