Studying Metropolis Council removes chairman of Redevelopment Authority over racial slur

READING, Pa. – In a particular assembly Thursday afternoon, Studying Metropolis Council voted to take away Ernest Schlegel from the Studying Redevelopment Authority, efficient instantly.

Though council remained silent on the matter, Schlegel — who additionally served as chairman of the authority — was apparently eliminated for making a racial slur in an electronic mail.

Throughout public remark, Schlegel defined that in an electronic mail earlier this month between himself and the town’s Director of Administrative Companies Jamar Kelly, he used the time period “step and fetch.”

Schlegel referred to as his use of the time period an unintentional and unlucky mistake, saying he had no concept the time period was rooted in slavery.

“Mr. Kelly responded that he was unfamiliar with the time period, and he may solely hope that it was not a racial slur,” Schlegel mentioned. “I wrote again to him that I do not use racial slurs and have a superb command of the English language.”

Schlegel mentioned he appeared up the time period after which understood why it may very well be understood as offensive.

Rising up on a farm in Oley, Schlegel mentioned the phrase was generally used as a Berks County colloquial time period.

In accordance with the web site, the phrase has an unsightly previous.

“To step and fetch is how many individuals as soon as described the job of a slave or handyman and Stepin Fetchit was a well-known actor who usually performed the stereotype of the lazy black man,” the web site states.

Schlegel apologized and requested for a second likelihood.

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“I’ve had time to mirror during the last three days, and I now perceive that the phrases that I used have been hurtful to Mr. Kelly,” Schlegel mentioned. “Mr. Kelly, I am sorry I didn’t know precisely what the phrase meant to individuals of colour, and I’m horrified now that I do know such connotation, and I would not have ever used that had I totally identified. I’m sorry to the complete neighborhood of individuals of colour, and I apologize.”

Schlegel added that as a homosexual man, he understands how phrases might be hurtful.

Rev. Evelyn Morrison, a frequent commenter at Metropolis Council conferences, mentioned Schlegel’s use of a racist time period was nothing new and accused him of constructing hostile remarks concerning gender and race when she served with him on the town’s constitution evaluate board in 2019.

“There’s some actual points right here, and we will not have public officers blatantly expressing feedback which can be vestiges of previous racism,” Morrison mentioned.

Morrison mentioned Schlegel’s sexuality shouldn’t determine into the dialog.

“He retains saying that he’s a minority, too,” she mentioned. “Sure, however what you do in your bed room is in your mattress. We do not must be coping with that, however racism is a matter that’s in opposition to the regulation. Amen.”

Sheila Perez, who additionally served on the constitution evaluate board, mentioned she backed up Morrison’s claims and added that she was harassed and handled with bigotry by Schlegel.

Council then voted to take away Schlegel in a 5-0 vote with out discussing the matter.

Council President Jeffrey Waltman and Councilwoman Melissa Ventura have been absent.

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