In racially inflammatory Internet comments news, Mark Traina, a school psychologist in New Orleans, has set off everybody in the parish for his radical solution to misbehaving black children. Traina has been involved in online debates about the Jefferson school system’s treatment of black and special education students and after much discussion he came up with this answer:
“Young Black Thugs who won’t follow the law need to be put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!”
This posting among several others like it were highlighted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and now Traina is being investigated by his school district, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Comments from Traina on Nola.com and his Twitter feed are no better. He issued this guidance not long ago:
“Serpas should be warning people to STAY THE HELL OUT OF NEW ORLEANS! These Black Dudes will Kill You!”
And bck in April, at the height of the Trayvon Martin protesting, he tweeted whose side he was on:
“Trayvon Martin case 911 call: Screams not George Zimmerman’s, 2 experts say: Zimmerman was the real victim and he held his ground!”
This case brings up the controversial issue of how fair it is to allow one’s comments on social media to affect their professional standing, but in Traina’s case, his remarks may be reflections of his professional behavior—or lack thereof. The complaint to the U.S. Department of Education about Traina’s comments came a day after a federal complaint was filed against the Jefferson Parish Public Schools for alleged discrimination against black students. The SPLC claims that black students are disproportionately referred to alternative schools for minor cases of misconduct such as disrespectful behavior and use of profanity. Although these students make up less than half of the student body, black students account for 78 percent of the referrals. Seeing how Traina feels about black boys, it’s not hard to make the connection. He, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with these stats. According to the Times-Picayune, he wrote:
“This is just another way to harass the Jefferson Parish Public School System. One only needs to read the Times Picayune to see who the real trouble makers are. Sadly, it is disproportionately young black males. Everyone knows that our jails throughout the United States are disproportionately filled with black people. Why would the rate be any different in an educational environment?
“Even one of the best known Civil Rights Activists in America recently indicated (I won’t mention any names) that it is MUCH safer to walk through a predominately white neighborhood after dark than in black neighborhood.”
What Traina doesn’t acknowledge is how much racial bias plays into the heavier punishments these boys are given—not that it excuses their behavior to begin with. That’s something we have to fix.
What do you think would be appropriate disciplinary action against Traina?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.