Memphis private school boots contractor after racist email sent to public official


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A black county commissioner who received a hate-filled email using racist language took to social media and was defended by an unexpected ally — a local private school.

Tami Sawyer has been an agent for change ever since she was elected to the Shelby County Commission, but even a bullseye can only tolerate so many arrows.

When an email arrived in her inbox that used the n-word to describe her, she posted it to Twitter.

“I was just so shocked that someone would think, one, it was OK to send that to public official’s email and there’d be no repercussions, and two, that they would call me a foul-mouth racist, while then calling me the worst racial slur a black person can be called,” Sawyer said.

“You know, it’s hurtful. It’s sad that it’s 2020 and this is, you know, still how people look at someone like me for opening my mouth and asking for equality.”

After some internet sleuthing, it was believed the email was written by someone who had been working on the campus of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis.

The school confirmed that, and responded to Sawyer, saying the person was a contractor for the school, but is no longer welcome on campus.

“We worked and contacted the vendor and removed their employee from the campus, barring the person from the campus immediately,” Lausanne Headmaster Stuart McCathie said.

Lausanne is a school built on diversity, with students from 60 different countries. For them, this was a teachable moment, showing that words matter.

Sawyer said she is grateful to Lausanne for unequivocally stating that Black Lives Matter.

“I always stand up for black people,” Sawyer said. “It doesn’t mean that I’m not, you know, a friend or ally to other communities. But I do believe that the more we have equality in black and brown communities, everyone will benefit.”

WREG reached out to the person who sent the email to Sawyer for a response, but we haven‘t heard back.

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