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Can a white guy be African-American? May 23, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Life.
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Former medical student Paulo Serodio is suing the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, claiming he was harassed and suspended for defining himself as a white African-American. Born and raised in Mozambique and now a naturalized U.S. citizen, Serodio, 45, is asking for reinstatement at the school and monetary damages in the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

Light-skinned Serodio’s problems began during a medical school class exercise, in which each student was asked to define themselves for a discussion on culture and medicine. After Serodio labeled himself as a white African-American, another student said she was offended by his comments and that, because of his white skin, was not an African-American. Serodio said he is a third-generation African of Portuguese ethnicity whose great-grandfather emigrated to Mozambique. He came to the U.S. in 1984 after being accepted at New York University.

The lawsuit claims Serodio began to be harassed by other students who sought disciplinary action against him for his statement in class, but was never given a chance to defend his views against the complaints.

via Louisville City Hall Examiner: Can a white guy be African-American?.

In September 2006, Serodio said he again asked to define himself culturally as part of another course exercise. Again, according to the lawsuit he said he was a “white African-American.” And again, he was called to the course instructor’s office and told never to define himself that way again.

According to the lawsuit, Serodio’s tires were vandalized in December of 2006, other students put up posters condemning him and he was denied protection by the school. At the school’s insistence, Serodio was given a psychological evaluation in April 2007 and was declared “fit for medical student functions,” according to the lawsuit.  But after a disciplinary hearing on April 1, which consisted of testimony from anyone claiming to be offended by Serodio’s comments, he was notified of his suspension.
His suspension, which Serodio said was for “unprofessional behavior,” meant he was unable to take the board exams reserved for students preparing to enter third year and therefore could not transfer elsewhere to continue his education even though he completed all the second-year coursework.
The question of who gets to call himself “African-American” has been festering for the past few years. Back in January, 2004, South African native Trevor Richards was suspended from an Omaha public school for distributing posters touting Trevor as a candidate for Westside High’s “Distinguished African-American Student” award on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   Richards, a junior at Westside High, moved from Johannesburg to Nebraska in 1998.
“The posters were intended to be satire on the term African-American,” classmate Scott Rambo told the Omaha World-Herald. Principal John Crook claimed the posters were disruptive. “It was offensive to the individual being honored, to people who work here and to some students,” Crook told the paper. “My role is to make sure we have a safe environment, physically and psychologically. We can’t allow that kind of thing to be hung up on our walls.”
Records from 2002-2003 indicate only 56 of Westside’s 1,632 students were black, and the first two recipients of the student award were white. But Westside officials pushed to change that, feeling the spirit of the honor meant giving it to a black student, and by 2001, the award was for blacks only.
Can you identify the African-American?   Charlize Theron (right) was born in South Africa while Rihanna (left) is from Barbados.


1. Chuck Bartok - June 5, 2009

The Idiocy of Political Correct Weaklings never ceases to amaze me.

Funny how “Society” Insists on Classifying, yet their bemoan Racisim.

2. sam - July 6, 2009

I feel the term of Anglo-African would be the right term to use as American is new to the world as far as history goes for the world WHITE population.

Anglo Saxon is the term used for the European peoples.

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