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Last May, the NYPD  lost its first and only black diver because he claims he was the target of racial taunts and discrimination during the application process and when he finally became a diver.

In an interview with The New York Times, Oscar Smith, 48, that his application was originally denied by a captain because of the old stereotype that “black guys couldn’t swim”. In addition to that comment, Smith’s complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission includes even more incidents where Smith believes racial bias occurred.

“The joke with them was, ‘What black guy can swim? How did this guy pass the test,” Smith told Marla Diamond of WCBS 880.

After 7 years, Smith retired in May 2013, because he pretty much had enough.  “I just couldn’t deal with it anymore, and it was time for me to leave,” Smith told the Times. Smith’s attorney, Norman Siegel, adds, “Oscar Smith’s situation raises serious questions about racial stereotyping in the N.Y.P.D.”

Smith also says his co-workers routinely called him gay because of his appearance.  “I’m a surfer. I’ve got painted toenails, toe rings, stuff like that,” Smith said. According to Smith, he isn’t gay, but was still offended by the taunts.

The NYPD has thus far declined to comment on the allegations, but a spokesperson confirmed the unit currently has no blacks among its 29 divers.

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  • geenababe

    It’s sad that people have to go through this mess at their work place. Some people are even driven over the edge to the point where the perpetrators are turned into victims. I hope he wins his complaint

  • copelli21

    Hm. No surprise here. Once again, ignorance and racism raises it’s ugly head.

  • vintage3000

    Prejudice on any job is stressful. I can’t imagine what it’s like when you have to depend on your co-workers every day for life and death situations. I hope he gets every penny, and that they NYPD somehow realizes how much these lawsuits cost the city.

  • Black Womanist

    Waiting for the “internal investigation” that cannot find any evidence supporting Mr. Smith’s claims. #sarcasm