We hope Lima civil service board member Jacqueline Tyre is sincere in her apology for using the N-word. However, the debate that has followed this disclosure makes it clear Tyre would be wise to take her name out of consideration for Lima’s new minority recruitment job.
Her comments were brought to light by Lima City Councilman Jesse Lowe II during last week’s meeting. Council typically ends its meetings with closing remarks from each member, and that’s when Lowe brought up a conversation he had with Tyre, in which she used the N-word several times. Making the conversation public, Lowe said, came after plenty of soul-searching, but he thought it was necessary given the position she was seeking.
Two questions have surfaced since Lowe dropped the bombshell.
Is the use of the “N-word” ever OK, and was Lowe wrong to make public something he heard during a private conversation?
Some people would have you believe that using the N-word can be OK, depending on who is saying it and in what context. Tyre, who like Lowe is black, said she used the N-word to refer to any member of a disadvantaged group, a definition the online Urban Dictionary contains. She told The Lima News last week that the N-word is used and accepted by everyone in the black community.
Lowe doesn’t see it that way, and frankly, we agree with him. It’s a stinging, offensive word that is used to insinuate that one race, or one person, is superior to another. It is a word that is intended to sting and hurt. There are no redeeming qualities to it. Black professionals, including Bill Cosby and syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, have argued strongly against the use of the N-word — by anyone, period.
Lowe further questioned Tyre’s consideration for the position because of comments she made about past problems she had with “black churches.” The 3rd Ward councilman contends no church should be defined by color.
Lowe is being hailed as a saint, or a sinner, for sharing Tyre’s remarks. The latter group believes he violated “a trust” by speaking about something that was said in private. We don’t buy that, especially given the job Tyre was seeking and the word she repeatedly used. The only thing Lowe is guilty of is not saying something to her at the time the comment was made. In that sense, he was like the person who remains silent after hearing a racist joke.
We further wonder why no objections came from the other participants in the meeting, which Tyre said was essentially a continuation of a heated Human Resources Committee meeting. Others present were 6th Ward Councilman Derry Glenn, city Human Resources Manager Vince Ozier and civil service board Secretary Andy King.
As it is, the controversy concerning her remarks is overshadowing the city’s quest to hire a part-time employee that would be dedicated to finding qualified minority employees. The job’s goal is to help the city provide a work force that better represents the population’s demographics.
Tyre’s ability to fairly judge job applicants will always be under scrutiny because of her choice of words. Given that, it is likely there are better qualified candidates.
If Tyre fails to remove herself from consideration, Mayor David Berger should pull his recommendation. Failing that, Lima City Council should refuse to fund the position.