Mayor forced to apologize over racially insensitive comments at ceremony
A mayor in Kennesaw, Georgia is under fire for comparing a Black employee to a chocolate doughnut. Mayor Derek Easterling says
A mayor in Kennesaw, Georgia is under fire for comparing a Black employee to a chocolate doughnut.
Mayor Derek Easterling says a comment about City Zoning Director Darryl Simmons’ shirt has been taken out of context after social media tore into the elected official for allegedly comparing a dark-skinned Simmons to a chocolate doughnut at a Dunkin Donuts ribbon cutting ceremony.
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The mayor appealed to local news station WSBTV to clarify his controversial statement.
“I’m upset because I hurt my friend,” Easterling said.
“All I said was, ‘Hey, look. Stand right here. The sparkles match your shirt.’ And the sparkles I was indicating were referring to the donut costume that was standing next to me,” Easterling said.
But witnesses say that Easterling most certainly targeted Simmons’ skin color. When he said: “Go stand by the chocolate donuts where you’ll blend in.”
While Easterling maintains his innocence, Simmons believes he was being compared to the dark-colored pastry.
“What I heard is what I heard. (I) was being compared to a chocolate donut and that’s what I heard,” Simmons said. “I was shocked like anything else.”
“As a professional, I only deal in truth, I can’t deal in perception,” Simmons said.
But he has since accepted Easterling’s apology.
“He gave a heartfelt apology, which I accepted because of our working relationship and knowing the type of person he is, I did not see it as a malicious act,” Simmons said.
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Easterling said he’s not racist and it was “perceived differently than it was intended.”
“I find fault with what I said. I own what was said and what was perceived,” he said.
Easterling’s office also sent the following statement to Channel 2 Action News about the incident:
“The City Manager’s Office along with Human Resources swiftly called an emergency meeting to address employees’ concerns. Mayor Easterling sincerely apologized for the comment and explained it was unintentional and will never happen again. Mayor Easterling said he has always had a good working relationship with the employee addressed and he in no way intended to offend the gentleman or other city employees. The City of Kennesaw is committed to maintaining a professional and lawful work environment free of harassment and discrimination.”