Readings — From the February 2020 issue

Invisible Man

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From a deposition given last year by Dominic Ryan, the general manager of Founders Brewing Company, to Jack Schulz, a lawyer for Tracy Evans. In 2018, Evans, an employee at the Michigan brewery, sued the company for racial discrimination, alleging that his co-workers used slurs in his presence, and that he was denied a promotion because of his race and fired after complaining to human resources. The lawsuit was settled in October. Patrick Edsenga is a lawyer for Founders. Kwame Kilpatrick is the former mayor of Detroit.

jack schulz: When did you first meet Tracy Evans?
dominic ryan: 2011, 2012. We had mutual friends before working there.
schulz: So you knew Tracy prior to his employment at Founders?
ryan: Met a few times, yes.
schulz: Are you aware that Tracy is black?
ryan: What do you mean by that?
schulz: Were you aware that Tracy is African-American?
ryan: I’m not sure of his lineage, so I can’t answer that.
schulz: All right. Are you aware Tracy’s a man of color?
ryan: What do you mean by that?
schulz: Do you know what a white person is versus a black person?
ryan: Can you clarify that for me?
schulz: No. You don’t know what it means for someone to be a white person or a black person?
ryan: I’m asking for clarification.
schulz: You don’t need any, I can promise you that. Someone’s skin color, a white—
ryan: So that’s what you’re referring to?
schulz: Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah.
ryan: Okay. Yes, I know the difference in skin tone.
schulz: Are you able to identify individuals by their skin color?
ryan: What do you mean identify?
schulz: I mean that have you ever looked at Tracy Evans in your entire life? Have you? That’s a genuine question.
ryan: Yes.
schulz: And did you ever realize that Tracy’s skin color is black?
ryan: Is his skin different from mine? Yes.
schulz: How?
ryan: What do you mean how? It’s a different color.
schulz: Correct. And what is the difference of that color?
ryan: It’s darker.
schulz: And that means?
patrick edsenga: Objection. Vague question.
schulz: This could be a one-sentence answer, you know. I guess your testimony is you have no idea if Tracy is a minority, if he’s African-American?
ryan: I don’t know Tracy’s lineage, so I can’t speculate on whether he’s—if he’s from Africa or not.
schulz: What do you mean lineage, from Africa?
ryan: I mean I don’t know his DNA.
schulz: Have you ever met black people who aren’t from Africa?
ryan: Excuse me?
schulz: Have you ever met a black person born in America?
ryan: Yes.
schulz: Have you ever met a black person who didn’t tell you they were black?
ryan: Can you rephrase that?
schulz: Is Barack Obama black?
edsenga: Objection.
schulz: To your knowledge?
ryan: I’ve never met Barack Obama, so I don’t—
schulz: So you don’t know if Barack Obama is black? What about Michael Jordan? Do you know if Michael Jordan is black?
edsenga: Objection.
ryan: I’ve never met him.
schulz: So you don’t know? What about Kwame Kilpatrick?
ryan: Never met him.
schulz: To your knowledge, was Kwame Kilpatrick black?
ryan: I—
schulz: You don’t know?
ryan: I don’t know.

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