Demonstrators have been gathering near a Detroit restaurant after a Black employee there was fired after a dispute over the use of the term “light skin.”
The Detroit News reports Christine Turner, who had been working at Green Dot Stables restaurant for 10 days, said she made a comment to a Black co-worker, using the term. A white employee overheard what was said and joined the discussion, also using the term, but referring to herself.
After that an argument began between Turner and the other employee over who has the right to use the term. Turner tried to explain that “light skin” is a terminology used in the Black community. "I just laughed it off and didn't think anything else because I, myself, am light skin," said Turner.
But the next day she was fired for discrimination by a manager after the employee she argued with complained.
"He said, 'Can't you see how a white person would be offended?' and I looked at him dead in his face and said, 'No,' " said Turner, referring to her manager.
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She told The News that she was reluctant to protest the firing, but the owner of the location where she held a second job said what happened to her was unfair and she decided to take action. "When you're Black, you try not to unintentionally pull the race card," she said.
With the assistance of two local activist groups, Detroit Solidarity Movement and By Any Means Necessary she organized a demonstration outside of the restaurant which drew about 30 people.
After the story went viral, Turner said the restaurant reached out to her for a meeting but she declined when they said her lawyer could not be present.
Colleen Robar, a spokeswoman for Green Dot Stables, said in a statement emailed to The News: "We value our employees and their privacy. Our policy is not to share information about our personnel."
The restaurant said that its handbook specifies that racial jokes would not be tolerated and that violation of the policy could result in termination.
According to local station WDIV, a protester said Christine Turner does not want her job back but she does want an apology.
“To take a policy that was out in place to protect minorities and people of color and use it against a person of color because a white person was offended is a perfect example of white supremacy,” Turner told the station.