Rachel Brothers, a bi-racial woman from Canada, was recently awarded a $11,000 in damages and lost income due to a lawsuit against her former employer, the Black Educators Association (BEA) in Nova Scotia. Donald Murray, the Chairman of the Board of Inquiry at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, ruled that she was discriminated against because of the color of her skin.
Brothers, who is biracial, was a regional educator at the association’s Annapolis Valley regional office in Kentville in 2006. She was fired after less than a year on the job.
Murray said Brothers lost her job at the association in part because of decisions the association made in which her skin colour was a factor, “and the problems that her skin colour had created in her office for another…employee.”
He wrote: “Ultimately, the injury to be compensated is the injury to Ms. Brothers’ dignity and self-respect.”
The report said Brothers was undermined by her subordinate, Catherine Collier, who had applied for the same job Brothers landed. Brothers then hired Collier.
“It is clear to me that Ms. Brothers was undermined in part because she was younger than, and not as black as, Ms. Collier thought Ms. Brothers should be,” Murray wrote.
He went on to say, “In Ms. Collier’s eyes, Ms. Brothers was not really black enough.”
Murray said rather than being offended by Collier’s comments about Brothers’ skin colour, “too many of the staff made efforts to excuse them, or to contextualize them, or to even shrug them off as no big deal.”
He said the evidence showed Brothers was distraught, upset and saddened by the comment
According to the Murray, colorist thinking occurs to “someone who believes the closer a person’s skin tone comes to pure white, the better the chances of getting jobs, accommodations and other opportunities available to “actual ‘white’ people.” Murray went on to state that, “colorists also think the ‘more visibly black, East Indian, American Indian or Asian a person is, ‘the greater the potential there will be for discriminatory distinctions to be made based on ‘color'”.