Life of Uppity White Nigger with Racist Hawaiian Electric Management

Just started school. Was my third-grade year. New student, as our family had recently relocated. My father was former military and a basketball coach. Moved often. Born in Mississippi. Mentioned to a former African American teammate the other day how my parents hated the Institutional Racism there. Huge impact on our lives.

Was a warm fall day and I had been chased home by three bullies. Hiding in the house when my dad came home early, “Why are those boys outside? What are you doing inside?” Told him they were threatening me. This upset him. Wasn’t mad at the boys. He was angry with me. “If you run from a bully now, you’ll be a coward all your life. Get out there and deal with them.”

Went outside in shame. Luckily the boys were gone. My father’s arrival scared them off. Couldn’t sleep that night. Knew they would be waiting tomorrow after school. They were. Didn’t run away that day. Wasn’t strong or fast, but always been a determined little shit.  Stood my ground. When the boy pushed, I punched. Just punched and punched and punched. Even when he fell, I jumped on him and kept punching. Bloody mess, he was.

Learned the lesson my dad wanted to teach. Never run from a bully; stand strong and defiant; when they push, punch; keep punching and punching and punching. Be a man, son!


Life of an Uppity White Nigger

My mom taught first-grade at a school with a predominantly African American population. Excellent teacher and compassionate surrogate mother. Tolerated no backtalk from us or her students. My parents had no reservation paddling our butts if we acted up, and she treated her students equally. She would give a firm swat to the behind of a deviant child or student. “Ready to behave?” she would ask. If yes, she smothered us in hugs and gentle kisses. My parents believed in tough love.

Played baseball and later basketball with boys in this community — sandlot as well as organized. Me, Ricky, Robert, Ike, Tony and Jeff generally. Was the only White kid. We’d laugh; argue; tease each other — but play, play, play. We loved sports. We’d drink from a dirty hose. Rest together in the shade. Then play some more.

When pau for the day, we’d cross the street to Woolworths. An iccee slush was only $0.10. None of us could afford A&W for root beer, which cost $0.50. In the corner of the parking lot hung out some local “toughs.” High-school-age White derelicts. Assholes and bullies. We gave them wide berth.

“Hey there, White Nigger! Why you play with them darkies.” My brothers would usually keep their eyes down. I remembered the words of my father. Stood taller and looked them directly and deep in their eyes. Didn’t say anything. Didn’t back down either. Was clearly defiant — in part because I usually had my baseball bat with me. We’d put our arms around each other and walk into the store.

As I got older, learned to appreciate Teddy Roosevelt. “Walk softly but carry a big stick.” Was a decent hitter as a kid. Never smacked a person, but would have made an exception if pushed by these racist punks. “White Nigger!” they just named-called.


russ
Russell “Big Russ” Edward Sanders

Was called White Nigger frequently. Considered an inside-out Oreo by my classmates who respected me. Lost my close friend, Big Russ, to cancer December 2017. He hosted a jazz music program on public radio. Was older, taller and wise. Taught me about music, as well as basketball.

Russ was socially active and spoke about the dark side of racism frequently. He would share with me how important it was to be the “uppity Nigger” whenever challenged. His huge smile and effervescent, positive attitude hid his pain. His deep, infectious laughter still fills my soul. “Never give up!” he coached me.


Institutional Racism at Hawaiian Electric

Had the opportunity to work for Hawaiian Electric recently. What a phenomenal team we had. Reminded me of the days with my brothers on the sandlot; or in college when our team drove deep into NCAA March Madness to the Elite 8. Our HECO coach, Lori Yafuso, is the John Wooden of IT management. Me, Greg, Tom, Liz, Vicky, Emily, Victor and others knocked home runs and slammed dunks daily. True champions. We were winning for The People in Hawai’i.

Was in horrible pain during that period. Could barely walk. Officially disabled and on a prescribed pain medication. The State of Hawai’i legalized medical cannabis in 2000. As an IT professional in a non-safety sensitive position, hadn’t encountered any issues. As a certified opioid-addiction public health specialist, this was a more safe and wiser alternative. Previous employers were tolerant and educated.

signed

Checked with HEI CEO and President Connie Lau’s Corporate Code of Conduct. Looked compliant. Company didn’t drug screen me or 1,000s of other contractors. Didn’t list a prohibition of medical cannabis.

HECOcode

Hawaiian Electric offered no drug-free workplace policy or program. Didn’t surprise me. We’re IT. You know, geeks in the back. Everybody performed proficiently at their jobs. We were winning in all ways.

Hawaiian Electric loved my skillset and attitude. An internal slot opened and my manager encouraged me to apply. My dream had come true. Checked with HR about my medication to be sure. On February 14th, HECO’s agent said I would be fine. On February 20th, IT Security confirmed my official hire and announced the start date. Cheehooo!!! What a celebration. Told the world.

On February 25th, HR director Shana Buco fired me. Not only that … claimed I was engaged in illegal activity; alleged I was intoxicated and impaired at work; said I was a danger to coworkers, the company and general public. Had spoken with her previously. Her tone was radically disparaging this time: I was a White Nigger. Her attitude was extremely offensive.

shana

Her words depicted me as a low-life. Subhuman. Despicable — ordered me to immediately leave the building. White Fucking Nigger. This represents Institutional Racism at Hawaiian Electric. Wouldn’t let me re-apply. Wouldn’t even talk with me. Just Get The Fuck Outta Here!

I begged and pleaded. Cried for days, weeks. Couldn’t sleep; couldn’t eat. Devastated. Requested to speak with the legal team. Denied. Thao Tran refused to even talk with me. Just a White Nigger to them. Just a piece of disposable rubbish.

thao_tran

Had to hire an attorney. Cost our family $5,000 at a time we were suffering primary loss of employment. Thao and her partner, Susan Li, treated me like a drug addict.

susan_li

To be reconsidered for employment, had to agree to their conditions of up to four (4) random drug tests in the upcoming year. Was a criminal to them. Classified me as a person engaged in illegal activity — like I molested a child or shot up the neighborhood. I’m on a doctor-recommended pain analgesic to help me sleep for Christ’s sake.

pride

Was following a doctor’s prescription and using a legal medication. Treated me as a White Nigger — just like punks and thugs in my youth. Ask my African American brothers. Once you suffer this slander, you never forget the feeling. Hawaiian Electric management acted just like the people Big Russ urged me to defy: Stand up! Stand proud! Be the uppity Nigger to racist people! Never give up!

Thao Tran and Susan Li, professional attorneys, dissembled in our written communication. Claimed they were unaware of my disability prior to the decision to terminate my employment. Why would I have a legal authorization for medical cannabis if not disabled?

disability

I informed HR February 14th. Lead doctor from Straub notified Hawaiian Electric February 19th. They knew — or should have known. Appears they lied and engaged me in bad faith.

letter

As I’ve now stood up for myself, appears I’m labelled an uppity Nigger around O’ahu. Looks like I’m blacklisted or blackballed — further Institutional Racism. It’s a small island and management at leading firms knows each other. I’m a marked human being. I’m an uppity White Nigger. There’s a plantation culture in Hawai’i and the mentality is like that which exists in the deep south — places like Mississippi. The Magnolia and Aloha states have too much in common with regard to the treatment of human beings. Even flags are similar.

flags
Mississippi (left) and Hawai’i Flags. Similar Plantation Culture.

HR staff at Hawaiian Electric told me I would be fine. Reported my medication and associated disability to Hawaiian Electric and Straub testing professionals. Never used before or during work. Although I’m discreet and respect HIPAA protections, fully disclosed and was transparent as required.

Slavery represents a deep wound to America’s character. Prohibition of cannabis is a continuation of Jim Crow and the evils of slavery. Those who use the word “marijuana” continue racism. Harry Anslinger, first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, coined the term to demonize People of Color. If you’re WOKE to racism, you say cannabis.

anslinger

President Nixon codified the Institutional Racism of cannabis in 1970. The War on Drugs is undeniably racist.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and Black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
John Erlichmann, Nixon’s Domestic Policy Chief, 1994

Hawaiian Electric management vilified me; treated me like a criminal; embarrassed me in front of colleagues and my professional community. We were a winning team. To them, I’m just the uppity White Nigger.


What Professionals Say

YOU have been a great asset to our team and it is your personality and humble nature that makes all of us so comfortable working together. We have had contractors on the DBA team before, but never with the synergy and positive energy that you bring with you. I believe you have had the greatest influence in our success and glad that we selected the right contractor. You have definitely made your mark here at HECO and have set the bar very high for future contractors!

Thank you for being you…keep doing what you do…keep that good karma flowing!
Lori
Project Manager
Hawaiian Electric

Thank you for the quick turnaround on this request.  A+ for execution and customer friendly style! Just wanted you to know a lot of folks, including myself, think very highly of you and the quality work that you do.
Greg
Database Analyst
Hawaiian Electric

I just wanted to drop a note to say how much I appreciated his help with a current project we’re in the middle of (ProjectWise). He was only supposed to be Greg’s backup but since Greg was out for the day I asked him a simple question to which he took time and care in giving me a complete picture of not only answering my question, but also performing the work that I was going to wait until when Greg got back to perform. He then took it even further when Greg got back as he helped us during the days of the preparation and took ownership on the issues we were facing and provided expert knowledge in overcoming the issues.
 
I really enjoyed working with him as he was courteous, professional, knowledgeable, and helpful all throughout the engagement. I am impressed that you have such an outstanding individual as a part of your team.
LANCE
IT Program Manager
Hawaiian Electric


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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”

 

 

 

 

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