This message is for those that have been marginalized, undervalued, and under estimated as black Americans, but wake up every day only to find that things have not changed for you, no matter how hard you tried to change who you are to fit in. This information is being shared with you from the personal experiences in life that I have had with some who have given me a sense that they had a hatred of themselves because they are not accepted by whites as equals.
In certain work places if there are more than one black they often will shy away from talking to each other for fear of appearing to being somehow conspiring against the establishment. I spent many years of my life in law enforcement and even in that world, comments would be made by my peers about the fact that two blacks were being allowed to ride together in the same car. However, it was no problem for two white officers to ride together.
I remember when I was assigned to the city of Victorville as a young deputy sheriff in 1978. I was one of two black officers there at the time. We were both assigned here due to issues of police brutality at the time and racial tensions at the time. And yes, for the record there was racism in the sheriff’s department then and it is there today. Only today it is more technical in nature and in the Trump era I expect it to surface more. In the 21st century I did not expect to relive the same issues that I had to endure as a youngster.
Promotions within the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department have always been limited and selective based on nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism. A person of color was usually promoted as a token or political convenience. I am almost sure that most would disagree with me if you are in a command level position and if you are a person of color you would are not going to agree with me publicly for fear of reprisal. This brings me to the reason I felt it necessary to write this story. In recent weeks, the local General Motors Dealership, Rancho Motor Company in Victorville has been exposed for what it really is, based on the depositions of witnesses and former employees.
In a recent July 9th, Sunday sun newspaper news article by Joe Nelson, allegations of systemic bank fraud, racial discrimination and sexual harassment at the family-run auto dealership have prompted former employees to come forward with horror stories. The victims of this alleged behavior are all African Americans. Of course, the dealerships official response is a complete denial of any wrong doing.
Among the former employees of Rancho Motor Co. to come forward is a retired San Bernardino County sheriff’s sergeant and a Victorville planning commissioner, also the vice president of the NAACP Victor Valley Branch, which in March sent a letter to Rancho president and owner John Wilkins asking to explain what he knew of the allegations that were publicized in the local news outlets. Wilkins denied the allegations.
White, as well as former dealership team leaders Danny Braun and Paul Marsh, have identified some of the people heard in the recording of the sales managers meeting, including Wilkins and his son and general manager, Jason Wilkins.
Braun is the retired sheriff’s sergeant, and Marsh is the vice president of the NAACP Victor Valley Branch as well as a Victorville planning commissioner. Both Braun and White said they were present during last year’s sales managers’ meeting, when the recording was made, but both say they are not the ones who produced the recording and do not know who did. A copy of the recording was obtained by the Southern California News Group.
According to White’s February lawsuit, Rancho employees were pressured and encouraged to falsify customer employment and salary information on loan applications to close more deals and reap more profits for the company. The company also fostered a workplace culture rife with racial discrimination and sexual harassment, where managers regularly referred to minorities in pejorative terms and boasted about sexual exploits, or made sexually offensive comments about employees and customers, according to the suit.
Braun and White said the recording was from a sales manager meeting last year, which they both attended. Rancho attorney Christian Scali objected to the recording being admitted into evidence on grounds of his client’s right of privacy and noting that the recordings were made without the consent of the people whose conversations were recorded, and therefore illegal.
Retired San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Craig Kamansky, who presided over the deposition as the referee, told Scali he understood his concerns, but that it was “probably more of a trial issue” or would entail a motion being filed with the court, according to the transcript of the deposition proceeding.
A recording of a sales managers meeting last year at the dealership, which captured employees exchanging racist comments about one particular customer and discussing the editing of customer credit applications before sending them to various lending institutions, has also emerged. It was introduced as evidence during a May deposition in former finance manager Christopher White’s litigation.
In the recording, people could be heard laughing and joking, and a racial epithet was used to describe one dissatisfied customer by the name of Cassaundra Ross. Braun identified the man who made that comment as company president and owner John Wilkins, “We need to buy sheets and some gasoline,” also in reference to Ross.
Another employee is heard saying, “I’m gonna shoot her in the butt,” also in reference to Ross. Braun identified that person as general manager Jason Wilkins.
White and Marsh, in separate interviews, also identified the men making those comments as John and Jason Wilkins.
Another employee was heard saying, “Would they get mad if we put a noose in the truck?” In an email, Rancho Motor Co. spokesman John Musella declined to comment.
“Mr. Braun’s deposition was taken under a protective order in a disputed and pending litigation matter, therefore it would be inappropriate for Rancho to comment at this time,” Musella said.
Kamansky ruled during Braun’s deposition that the personal information of Rancho Motor Co. customers referred to in the deposition, as well as details of Braun’s separation agreement with Rancho when he resigned in May 2016, was protected and not subject to public disclosure. Kamansky did not, however, order the entire record of the proceedings be sealed, according to the transcript.
Sadly, many of the blacks that have paid cash at this particular dealership were treated no different than those who had to rely on their credit and financing for the purchase. In the end if there were any special feelings of importance as customers the actions of certain employees should let them know that they are just another N——r based on transcripts. You cannot escape being black.
Portions of this article were taken from the Joe Nelson writing in the San Bernardino Sun Newspaper.