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Lee DSS workers want boss to apologize for offensive e-mail

Posted March 3, 2011

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— Some Lee County Department of Social Services employees on Thursday criticized their boss for sending an e-mail to them this week that they consider racist.

The e-mail, which was sent to everyone in the department, included an image of a person hanging from a tree.

"It took me awhile to get myself together," DSS worker Tamekia Dowdy said. "I was shocked. I was insulted. I felt very numb. My thoughts began to race back to those times when people were hanging by trees."

DSS Director Brenda Potts declined to comment, referring questions to County Attorney Dale Talbert. Neither Talbert nor County Manager John Crumpton returned phone calls Thursday.

Dowdy said she understands that the e-mail was meant as a joke about DSS auditors. The subject line refers to someone leaving a computer on while making copies.

"When we leave our desks, we're supposed to make sure our computers are locked because we have confidential information on our screens," she said.

Still, she said, she didn't find the image humorous and wants Potts to apologize for sending it.

"For her to even think that was not insulting, that was not disgraceful, she should apologize," she said.

Crumpton sent her an e-mail in which he said he didn't find the image racist.

"Of course, I am not in the shoes of those that would be offended by this type of picture," Crumpton wrote in the e-mail. "Perceptions are reality in the public world, so we all should be more concerned about the impact of what we say and do."

 DSS worker Tamekia Dowdy Lee DSS workers says boss sent offensive e-mail

Dowdy said the words "social services" in the department's name should mean something to Potts.

"(We should be) a department that loves people, that cares for people, but for you to send out images like this, it proves you don't even care about your own employees," she said.


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  • North Carolina Home Mar 4, 2011

    michaelclay is a victim of selective teaching and not a user comprehensive learning which would serve both him and society better.

  • 9dlgme Mar 4, 2011

    I agree that there was probably a better clip art image that could have been sent out, but I would like to know what the statement was that was typed next to the image. AND didn't the image have a black background with the tree and person hanging in white? I think someone should also take a look at the personnel file (it is public record) of the worker that reported this to the media to see if maybe there was another motive behind turning this over to the media and not following DSS's protocol that states if you have an issue, you are to go through your chain of command, which I know was not done.

  • kjackson47 Mar 4, 2011

    i agree an apology should be made and this situation shouldve never been on wral. things should be better in this country where everything someone says is under a microscope.

  • whatdidyouexpect Mar 4, 2011

    Offend = Cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful.
    The Boss was wrong, employee should not have went to media so fast. If everyone had to apologize every time someone was offended, everybody would walk around saying, "I'm Sorry I Offended you" all day long. Does a vegetarian get offended when you eat meat? Does a gay get mad when he/she sees you with a member of the opposite sex? Do fat people not like to see skinny people eat? Does you clothes offend someone? I think anything could be offensive to anyone one. As for myself, there not much you could do to TRULY offend me. A lot of people need thicker skin and not be so sensitive. Again, read the definition of "offend", it seems to cover most people, most days. In closing, I do think in this day and time, the way some people like to play the race card about anything they can, the e-mail was in poor judgment for management to be sending. No one is going to get hung for not locking their computer, Black or White or Hispanic, etc.

  • michaelclay Mar 4, 2011

    ashleyhoneycutt132007, 100 years ago if you lynched a White person for no reason other than he was White someone would be charged with murder and more than likely convicted but if it happened to a Black person for no other reason than he was Black it probably would not even have been investigated. And I say again that some of us are old enough to rember when things were not fair, as a matter of fact I lived in Sanford when schools were first intergrated as I was a part of the intergration of Jonesboro elementry school on Main st. I also remember having to go in a side door and sit in the balcony at the Center Movie Theater. These things happened in the 1960's which was not so long ago. Many of you who are replying to this artical were probably born in the mid to late 1970's as my kids were and really wouldn't understand the hurt that some of us do. But it's just like packalum09 stated, apologize out of courtesy. A lot of times we don't mean to offend but we do so it so dosen't hurt to

  • ashleyhoneycutt132007 Mar 4, 2011

    I think this is down right crazy! Yes, black people were hung years ago but white people were also. 100 years ago, if you committed a crime, you were hung, that went for whites, blacks, indians or whomever. I don't think she should apologize at all and I think people should just take it as a joke.

  • michaelclay Mar 4, 2011

    packalum09, very well said.

  • packalum09 Mar 4, 2011

    I think that the workers who were offended should receive an apology. Regardless of your intentions, when you offend someone, it's just courtesy to say, "I apologize; I didn't mean to offend you"...nothing more, nothing less is needed. I think that if the image had been a stick figure (look at the video; it isn't), it's more likely that the email would've been taken as a joke. I actually thought that the County Manager's words, "Of course, I am not in the shoes of those that would be offended by this type of picture," are more suspect than the email.

  • ddavisonnc Mar 4, 2011

    Once AGAIN much a do over nothing!

  • BrightLight Mar 4, 2011

    Geez, I grew up on western movies!! I thought white people did get hung! Of course, I also thought you had to be mounted on a horse for it to happen. In any case, due to my occupation, I have seen some auditors that I thought should be hung(usually IRS types) and invariably they were white. Gosh, I'm trying to sympathize with this lady, but I sure am conflicted.