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Like many Black people across America, I, at the very least, get irritated when I hear white people use Black vernacular. (And before anyone calls me petty for it, I invite you to take a look at the way Caucasians have succeeded in thoroughly bastardizing the word “woke.”) It takes me back to when I was the only Black employee at an office job, and I was constantly inundated with white coworkers greeting me with, “What up, dawg!” or trying to fist-bump me every time I went in for a handshake.

And it wasn’t the kind of thing you could go to HR about because it wasn’t an issue non-Black people were even remotely aware of, and making a thing of it would make me look like a petty race-baiter who, ironically, doesn’t fit the company culture. So, basically, I just had to be uncomfortable in silence.

Well, apparently, a white person can get fired over such an offense these days.

Meet Meghan Mangrum.

Until recently, Mangrum was a journalist covering education for the Dallas Morning News, as she’d done for the Tennessean previously, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press before that, according to D News. But Mangrum was fired over her use of a single word while addressing Dallas’ Black Mayor. And, bruh—she’s probably regretting her word choice right about now.

From D News:

So on Saturday, February 11, when the Tampa Bay Lightning came to Dallas for a matinee match, Mangrum headed to the American Airlines Center for her first Stars game. A little before 1 p.m., running late for the puck drop, she saw that Mayor Eric Johnson had criticized local media for, in his view, not fully reporting the good news about Dallas’ crime numbers dropping for the second consecutive year. The mayor opined that reporters were interested only in bad news.

In a tweet that would change the trajectory of her career, Mangrum wrote the following: “Bruh, national news is always going to chase the trend. Cultivate relationships with quality local news partnerships.”

“He was going after local media for their coverage of crime,” Mangrum told D News regarding her tweet. “And I saw some of my colleagues responding to him, tweeting out stories the Dallas Morning News has done, saying, ‘Hey, Mr. Mayor, you know this isn’t quite fair.’”

“Standing up for my colleagues and the work that we do, when I know we’re doing good and honest work is something I pride myself on and something that I look for in my colleagues and in my workplace as well,” she continued.

But her “workplace” didn’t show her that same loyalty, and she was fired for her use of the single word three days after she tweeted it.

Before she was handed her pink slip, Mangrum was brought in to meet with the Morning News’ Black executive editor Katrice Hardy, who asked Mangum if she would have used the word “bruh” if Mayor Johnson was white, to which she answered “yes.”

“I would never tell a person of color, ‘Oh, it wasn’t racist. You shouldn’t feel that way,’” Mangrum reportedly said. “But I know my intent, and it was not at all about race. I use that word with my friends and when I tweet about hockey. It’s just part of my vernacular. I grew up in Central Florida, and, you know, I’m a millennial.”

Personally, I think firing her over the offense was a bit much, but she does catch my side eye for characterizing a word that comes from African American Vernacular English as “just part of my vernacular” because “I grew up in Central Florida” and “I’m a millennial,” as if those things have anything to do whit the way white people of multiple generations and from multiple regions in America appropriate Black idioms, speech patterns and even accents.

Black people grow tired of seeing article after article that describe certain slang words and phrases as Gen Z culture or millennial culture or TikTok culture when the vast majority of the terms come out of BLACK CULTURE. (Seriously, one source even cites the word “finna” as an example of TikTok slang, and I just can’t imagine there’s a single Black person on that writing team.)

Anyway, Mangrum believes there’s a “broader context” missing from the story of her firing, and she explained as much in a recent op-ed piece she wrote on it, which you can read here.

Again, firing Mangrum might have been overkill, but the issue that got her the boot is real, and I’ll never tire of finding new opportunities to address it.

Stay woke, good people.


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