(TMU) — In the latest bizarre confirmation that racism remains a pressing issue in the United States, a Catholic priest in Tennessee has been accused of harboring bigoted racial attitudes after his secretary told a black housekeeper that she was not allowed to clean his home because of his pet “racist dog.”
The allegations were leveled by two women against Rev. Jacek Kowal, a pastor at the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Collierville, according to the Commercial Appeal.
During the incident, housekeeper Emily Weaver was training her replacement LaShundra Allen in May. Both women are employees of Master Building Service Contractors, which has long helped clean the reverend’s home along with the church and parish school.
Allen, who is black, explained to local Fox affiliate WHBQ:
“I was just supposed to clean the church and I was supposed to go to the pastor’s house and clean as well. They were just like, ‘Well, I’m not really sure how to say this,’ kind of like in a joking way, ‘But Father Jacek doesn’t want black people cleaning the house because his dog is racist.’”
Allen and Weaver are now asking the Catholic Diocese of Memphis to fully investigate their complaint, discipline the reverend, and pay compensatory damages and attorney’s fees for the alleged act of racial discrimination.
Attorney Maureen Holland, who is representing the women, wrote in a letter to the diocese:
“In no uncertain terms, Father Jacek knew that an African American woman was about to clean his home … He made no effort to come meet Ms. Allen. He made no effort to correct any statement about his dog being a ‘racist.’
The two church office employees then reiterated that Father Jacek ‘did not want (Ms. Allen) there’ and that they needed to leave. Both Ms. Allen and Ms. Weaver were shocked, humiliated, and felt severely disrespected by this treatment and the statements.”
Continuing, the letter added that “it is quite easy to see the racism in this exchange” and the interaction “most strongly suggests that Father Jacek and his staff did not want an African American woman cleaning his home.”
Can you please address the issue of the Rev. Jacek Kowal, a pastor at the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Collierville, Tenn. who banned his black housekeeper and blamed his racist dog? As a Catholic, how is this person a priest?
— Magpie (@Magpie63726507) August 16, 2019
Allen explained that this was the first time she had experienced racial discrimination, and the fact that it came from the reverand and his church staff was particularly terrible. She noted:
“It made me feel so bad as a person. It made me feel really low, really, really low … I believe they need to lose their jobs. I don’t see how they can be around — and mind you that school has black kids in that school, kids of various colors in that school. How are you OK teaching kids of color but not OK with someone of color cleaning your house?”
In his defense, the church leader wrote a statement that truly strains credulity with its theological insistence that he is not racist. Kowal wrote:
“As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I wholeheartedly believe all forms of discrimination based upon race or ethnicity are sinful and wrong.”
Kowal explained that the dog, whom he adopted in 2012, had once “had a bad experience with a stranger who happened to be African American.” He added:
“Since that time, Ceaser (the dog) has been aggressive with strangers until he gets to know them … And this is especially true for strangers that happen to be African American.”
The Catholic Diocese of Memphis has defended Kowal, with local Bishop David Talley noting in a statement Friday that “claims of racial bias and discrimination are unfounded” and recalling parish staff as having said, “Fr. Jacek’s dog is kinda racist.” The letter added that the dog became “somewhat more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin, until the dog gets to know them.”
The story recalls a classic episode of comedy TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm, where lead protagonist Larry David adopts a dog that apparently dislikes his dark-skinned friends, raising questions as to whether he trained the dog to dislike black people.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years
Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.
Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.
The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.
Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.
It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.
“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”
Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.
Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.
“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.
“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”
Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.
“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.
Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.
“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”
In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.
Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.
A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.
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