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A North Carolina zoning commissioner has been removed from his position after repeatedly ignoring requests to address a Black woman by her title, “Doctor.”
According to The Lily, Dr. Carrie Rosario, who holds a doctorate in public health, was part of a virtual Greensboro zoning meeting on April 20 and weighed in on a new development that she believed might threaten her neighborhood’s drinking water supply.
Rosario is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and told The Lily she feels holding a doctorate “adds legitimacy to what I’m saying.”
During the meeting, then-zoning commissioner Tony Collins invited her to speak but did not refer to her as Dr. Rosario. She then interrupts him multiple times to correct him, saying, “It’s Dr. Rosario, thank you.”
After being corrected Collins, replied by saying, “Well, you know, I’m sorry. Your name said on here, Carrie Rosario. Hey Carrie.”
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She replied: “I wouldn’t call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called. That’s how I identify,” she said, prior to Collins responding with, “It doesn’t really matter.”
“It matters to me, and out of respect, I would like you to call me by the name that I’m asking you to call me by … I’m verbalizing my name is Dr. Carrie Rosario,” Rosario objected. “And it really speaks very negatively of you as a commissioner to be disrespectful.”
The Greensboro News & Record reports that Collins was removed from his position a day later during a City Council meeting.
Dr. Rosario told WFMY she found the exchange “very frustrating” and that it wasn’t the first time she experienced disrespect.
“I introduced myself as Dr. Carrie Rosario intentionally because, as a Black woman, I often am dismissed in a lot of different spaces. Some of that is because I am young-looking,” she said to the news station. “It hurt, that I’m in this public forum trying to do right by my neighborhood, and advocate for our needs, and our voices, and hearing him, feeling disrespected and just belittled in front of the viewers of this live broadcast.”
Rosario told WFMY that Collins offered an apology and that she accepted it.
“I let him know I hold no ill will against Mr. Collins,” she said. “This is an enlightening moment we can learn from.”
Additionally, Collins told The Lily that his exchange with Rosario was “out of line.”
“There is no good excuse for my interaction with Dr. Rosario so I will not try to offer one,” he said. “Citizens deserve better.”