A veteran Bronx educator claims she was fired in part because she refused to mimic a salute to Black power from the 2018 comic-book movie “Black Panther” during superintendent meetings.
At official gatherings of high-level Department of Education bosses, then-Bronx superintendent Meisha Ross Porter often asked the group to do the arms-across-the-chest gesture of solidarity from the mythical African nation of Wakanda. The salute is considered a symbol of empowerment.
When Rafaela Espinal — a Dominican-American who describes herself as Afro-Latina — declined to join in, she “was admonished and told that it was inappropriate for her not to participate,” according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Feb. 3 against the city DOE, Chancellor Richard Carranza and some of his top-ranking lieutenants.
Espinal was one year shy of earning a lifetime DOE pension when she was abruptly fired from her role as head of Community School District 12 in Bronx without explanation, after repeatedly refusing to do the “Wakanda Forever” salute, according to the lawsuit.