Commentary: Racist Louisiana School Official Unforgivable

Commentary: Racist Louisiana School Official Unforgivable

School psychologist Mark Traina, who works with alternative schools which Black and disabled students attend in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, has come under fire for posting racially charged comments to his Twitter account. He has not been fired and remains unapologetic.

Published May 22, 2012

(Photo: Courtesy Twitter)

It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that simply because someone works with children that they like children. It’s also easy to make the mistake that because someone works with Black children, they must not be racist. Allow Mark Traina, a school psychologist in New Orleans, Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish school district, to disabuse you of those wildly wrong beliefs.

This week, Traina has come under fire for a wild series of racist tweets delivered from his Twitter account, tweets that, among other things, say Blacks who commit crimes should be “put down” like animals. Here, a sampling of Traina’s most infamous tweets from The Times-Picayune:

Young Black Thugs who won't follow the law need to be put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!"

In a March comment about an article on a violent incident in New Orleans, he wrote, "Quick someone call David Duke before the NAACP gets here!"  

Remarking in March about the Republican presidential primaries, he wrote, "I grew up in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana - I am a Wallace Man at Heart!"

Traina calling himself a “Wallace Man” is, of course, a reference to George Wallace, a hard-line segregationist former governor from Alabama who admitted to using hatred and fear of Blacks to win elections. “You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened,” Wallace was once quoted as saying. “And then I began talking about n------s, and they stomped the floor.”

The Jefferson Parish schools are already the subjects of a federal investigation thanks to claims by civil rights groups that there is a definite racial bias guiding which students the schools arrest. Writes The Times-Picayune’s Barri Bronston, “Of the 453 students arrested in Jefferson Parish public schools in the 2010-11 school year, 345 were black, according to the complaint.”

With federal heat making things tense around Jefferson Parish, one might figure that school officials would be more mindful of the things they say. Traina obviously is not planning on being more mindful.

To this day, in fact, he refuses to apologize for his racist tweets, and perhaps that’s a good thing for the students of Jefferson Parish: If we know that unapologetic bigots like Traina are in charge of things over there, it makes it easier for authorities to weed them out. It also helps explain why African-American kids are getting arrested in Jefferson Parish at disproportionate rates. Hint: It doesn’t all have to do with them acting out.

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Written by Cord Jefferson


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