First, let's get some back ground on this law suit: Johnson had recorded the March 14, 2012 so called tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior that was aired for the jury and described by both sides as the trial's centerpiece. She said she cried for 45 minutes in the restroom afterward.
"I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed," Johnson testified. Below is the link of that private conversation.
In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word among Blacks, a federal jury has rejected a Black manager's argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at a Black employee.
But Johnson, a 38-year-old New Yorker, said that was the reality during her two-year stint with STRIVE, a New York City-based non-profit group.
“This was not just for me, I was doing this for every woman there to come forward so something like this won’t ever happen again,” Johnson said. “No one wanted to do anything.”
According to CNN, a formal complaint sent in April 2012 to STRIVE CEO Phil Weinberg was disregarded, and Johnson was fired from her job by Weinberg that June.
“I didn’t deserve what I got from STRIVE,” she said.
Who and what is STRIVE:
STRIVE is one of the world’s leading workforce development agencies. Founded 25 years ago in East Harlem, New York by Rob Carmona, the programs have helped transform the lives of nearly 50,000 individuals and their families by equipping them with the skills and attitudes needed to break the barriers that keep them in poverty. STRIVE’s programs provide comprehensive training, career development and supportive services for the hardest-to-employ, most at-risk individuals. They champion themselves by teaching thier students with tough love.
In 2011, STRIVE served 931 individuals, graduating 299 from their CORE training program and 236 from the vocational skills training. They also served 130 youth in the NYC Summer Youth Employment Program and 82 men in the Fatherhood Program. They have helped secure jobs for 212 of the graduates at an average hourly wage of $12.04.
Rob Carmona comes from the streets, so slang and tough talk is always heard among his employees as well as the students. This is done in love and not to disrespect but to wake up the champion inside. According to STRIVE, Carmona is a Harlem native who had a troubled teenage life. Among several run-ins with the law, he was in and out of jail and was addicted to drugs. Carmona started the non-profit organization as a result of his experiences, hoping to help others like him seek a better life for themselves.
Carmona went on to earn a master's degree from Columbia University before co-founding STRIVE in the 1980s. Now, most of STRIVE's employees are Black women, defense attorney Diane Krebs told jurors in her opening statement.
When I listen to the audio recording of this conversation it appeared to me that Johnson knew that Rob Carmona would say this word and talk more freely than when they were before the other employees. It appeared to me that she set him up and then made up a story of harassment and having to feed her children.
“I ran to the bathroom and cried for a while,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe that he would say something like that to me.”
But when you listen to the audio it sounds like their having a private conversation and talk like that to each other all the time.
“After being employed with STRIVE, within the first 30 days, the co-founder of the company, Mr. Rob Carmona began to verbally badger me and be very disrespectful,” Johnson said in an interview. Also says Carmona’s behavior continued for the next two years, until he called me Nigga” several times in one particular tirade in March 2012, which Johnson secretly recorded.
Hmmmmmmm, how did she know he would say that word? Had they talked that way before this day? She never said that Rob Carmona called her that word before in two years. Had she been privately recording him waiting for him to say something that would incriminate himself.
On March 14, 2012, after being employed with STRIVE for 2 years she got what she wanted. Carmona used the word Nigga several times in their conversation.
Note: I am not a fan of the word "Nigga or Nigger" and I think it is very inappropriate in the workplace. That being said It seems to me Rob Carmona was set up. But why? Many of the staff was use to how Carmona talks. Does that make it right?
"And Mr. Carmona is himself Black, as you yourselves can see," Krebs said.
In his testimony, Carmona defended his use of the word, saying he used it with Johnson to convey that she was "too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature."
Then he explained that the word has "multiple contexts" in the Black and Latino communities, sometimes indicating anger, sometimes love.
Carmona said he might put his arm around a longtime friend in the company of another and say: "This is my nigger for 30 years."
"That means my boy, I love him, or whatever," he said.
He was asked if he meant to indicate love when he called Johnson the word.
"Yes, I did," he responded.
Many of us are very angry when the "N" word is used by so called white people but use it ourselves among friends as slang.
So did Brandi Johnson take this very fact of using a slang word and use it to her advantage to file a lawsuit against her boss? Was she really harassed by Carmona are where these his usual pep-talks with street language to a friend?
Brandi Johnson complained several times to human resources and nothing was done,” attorney Sharpe said. “Senior level employees simply said, that’s how Rob is.”
Johnson, took matters into her own hands and decided to record the March 14, 2012 rant by her boss Carmona on her iPhone. What was captured that day was “shocking,” she said. But was she really shocked at what he said?
“Both of you are Niggas; (referring to Brandi Johnson and her friend and co-worker) cause sometimes it’s good to know when to act like a Nigga,” Carmona can be heard saying to Johnson on the recording.
During the conversation, Johnson repeatedly told Carmona how she was “really offended by that [word],” however Carmona continued on, saying, “You can be offended….but you and her act like Niggas, and Niggas let their feelings rule them.”
The controversy is a blemish on STRIVE, which has been heralded for helping people with troubled backgrounds get into the workforce. Its employment model, which was described in a CBS' "60 Minutes" piece as "part boot camp, part group therapy," claims to have helped nearly 50,000 people find work since 1984.
Well you be the judge, was he setup or was she really hurt by the word Nigga and harassed by Mr. Rob Carmona?
Regardless of what STRIVE has done the word Nigga is not a word that we should use to express ourselves in conversation but we as Israelite are still in that slave mind. We have learned from the slave master how to tear each other down. We are slaves even when we think that we are free. We have been programed to self-destruct each other and attack each other like crabs in a barrel.
I believe Rob Carmona really thought he was having a heart to heart with Brandi and she took advantage of that and recorded a private conversation for monetary gain.