Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Racial Incident At SUBASE NLON (EB Employees)

No time to comment on these reports, but basically it appears that five EB employees either harassed or didn't report harassment they saw of an African-American EB engineer. Since it happened on the Sub Base, this also makes it a Navy matter:

"The five workers allegedly physically accosted a black New Haven man, a nuclear engineer at EB, and repeatedly called him "black boy," Phillips said. The victim was also put into wrestling-like holds and threatened by co-workers who implied they would stuff him into a trash can.
"We are conducting a criminal investigation because there were serious allegations of assault," said sub base spokesman Christopher Zendan. "Certainly we are conducting this investigation, even though it involves non-governmental civilians."
Zendan said Monday the submarine base security department began conducting the investigation Feb. 17 into what EB has called "group bullying and harassment with racial overtones."

I spent quite a bit of time at EB, and saw plenty of "non-enlightened" talk, but never any non-Union-related physical intimidation -- maybe because there were so few (non-Navy) African-Americans working there.

I'll be interested to see if EB puts out an official press release...

Bell-ringer 0512 08 March: A commenter mentions how bigoted he senses New England generally is with regards to race. In my three times living in SE Connecticut, I kind of got the same sense; people wouldn't admit they were racist, but they seemed to conveniently be opposed to projects that successful non-whites were involved in. The most obvious example was the way my town, Ledyard, fought a series of losing battles against Foxwoods Casino. Now, obviously there will be people who will oppose a casino on other than racist grounds, but it was interesting to me that a neighboring town, Montville, didn't have nearly the same problems with the Mohegan Sun casino. An article in the local paper (not available online, but I remember it) discussed some of the reasons why. In brief, the story opined that the main reason for the difference in relations between tribe and city were that the majority of the Pequots who ran Foxwoods "appeared" to be African-Americans, while the Mohegans "appeared" to be white.

(The story of how the Pequots came to be recognized as an Indian tribe is fascinating -- this book is very anti-Pequot, but gives the basics of the story. This page also gives some of the basics. In short, the remnants of the tribe lived on a fairly large reservation north of Groton, but had mostly moved away by the mid-1800s. The state saw all this unused land on the reservation, so they took it and sold it in the 1850s. In the 1970s, the tribe (essentially Skip Hayward, a welder at EB at the time) challenged the sale, and everyone realized that, if it got to trial, the judges would have no choice other than to return the land, where several thousand people had built their houses and thought they owned the land, to the tribe. The tribe dropped their land claims in exchange for tribal recognition, which they wouldn't have been able to get otherwise. There is some evidence that most of the tribe's current members are descendents of former slaves who had squatted on the reservation, rather than descendents of the ancestral Pequots.)

Update 2316 08 March: The harassed engineer speaks out in this story in The Day (annoying free registration required in an hour or so):

"Allyn J. Wright said he is the only black Electric Boat engineer working at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.
"But, he said in an interview Tuesday, he has never felt out of place because there are plenty of minorities on the base. He said he was “shocked” to become the victim of a series of racially charged incidents on the job last month.
"Wright, 30, said that on Feb. 16 he was cornered by five white EB employees — three supervisors and two hourly workers — who called him “black boy” several times and said they could fit him in a trash can.
"The previous day, one of the employees had lifted him several feet off the ground, jostling him from side to side. Later, the same employee grabbed him from behind in a wrestling hold, according to a complaint he filed the next day with EB officials.
“He was just like swinging me around, dangling me ... like I was a toy. There's a difference between that and like a playful (gesture),” Wright said."

I had originally thought that maybe the engineer was very new with the company, and the workers were subjecting him to some very ill-conceived "initiation"-type ribbing. It turns out, though, that Wright has been with EB for five years, so that wasn't the case. I think he might have been a little sensitive, though, about being upset about being called a "dumb engineer"... that's fairly mild deckplate vs. "glass tower" smack-talk, as far as EB goes. As far as the racial aspects of the incident are concerned, though, EB was right in firing the offenders immediately.

The article goes on to categorize the 50 discrimination complaints that have been filed with the state about EB since mid-2000: 20 are complaints of alleged discrimination on the basis of physical disability; 16 on the basis of sex; 13 on the basis of race; 12 on the basis of age; and 10 on the basis of color.

The low numbers for "sex" surprises me. I probably heard 16 inappropriate sexually-related comments a day when I was there -- a lot of them came from the women, though.


Blogger half said...

but never any non-Union-related physical intimidation

And there you have.

3/07/2006 1:48 PM

Blogger half said...



3/07/2006 1:49 PM

Anonymous Byron Audler said...

Just goes to show you, that bigotry is not confined to the South and NASCAR-loving good old boys..

3/07/2006 1:52 PM

Anonymous EW3 said...

byron, the new england region is one of the most bigotted places I've ever lived. Racism is quite rampant up here, but they have ways of not talking about in polite company.

3/07/2006 10:10 PM

Blogger Subsunk said...

The sexual harrassment numbers bother me too. I agree with you that many more sexual comments were heard daily (not that I cared one way or the other). I also agree that the women were just as bad as the guys.

But this incident actually bothers the hell out of me.

Keep an eye on it Bubblehead. This bodes ill of the rest of the country.


3/09/2006 8:19 PM

Blogger submandave said...

"the new england region is one of the most bigotted places I've ever lived"

Malcolm X compared being a black man in the North and a being a black man in the South as choosing between living with foxes or wolves. He felt that with the wolves at least you knew where you stood, while the foxes were always trying to convince you they were your friends.

3/17/2006 11:00 AM

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