SOUTH BRONX — "We don't want a black girl," a Harlem woman was told before being rejected for the district manager position of a local Community Board, according to a civil rights complaint.
Harlem resident Medina Sadiq was turned down for the administrative job at Bronx Community Board 2, she claims, because of her dark skin and Harlem address, a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said.
She had already accepted the job after multiple interviews over the summer and was set to start working on Aug. 1, she said, but was told she would have to voted in during a board meeting in July.
“I had been sitting on that community board as a member of the Economic Development Committee for seven years," she said, "so I knew everybody anyway, so I said, 'Well, OK, sure.'”
When she arrived, a member of the board's search committee took her aside and told her to expect a "rough meeting" because some board members were upset that other candidates they had preferred were not chosen for the position, according to the complaint.
Immediately after the meeting was called to order, board members became angry that only one candidate was being presented for them to vote on, and several said that they did not want a "Harlem girl" to lead the board, the complaint says.
After a representative from the Bronx Borough President's Office clarified that the district manager of a community board does not need to live in the district, a board member doubled down on the race issue, saying, "No queremos una morena," which translates to, "We do not want a black girl," according to the complaint.
A majority of Bronx Community Board 2 members are Hispanic, and although Sadiq herself is Puerto Rican, "her overall physical appearance is subjectively perceived as that of a black woman more so than a Hispanic woman," the complaint reads.
Sadiq was "shocked, embarrassed and disgusted" by this discriminatory treatment, given that she was being attacked solely because of her Harlem address and her physical appearance as a black woman, not because of her professional background or credentials, the complaint says.
"They never asked me any questions," Sadiq said. "I never was given the opportunity to speak because it never was about me as a qualified person or not."
The complaint describes her as an "exemplary employee with a solid professional background and a law degree" who most recently served as executive director of the Southern Boulevard Business Improvement District from 2008 to 2016.
One board member eventually noticed how upset the comments about Sadiq's ethnicity were making her and said, "Someone go next to her and hold her hand," according to the complaint.
However, there was ultimately no vote on Sadiq at the meeting, so her election to the district manager position was not approved, and she left "without saying a word and in complete shock and utter disgust," the complaint says.
She was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder on Oct. 10 and is seeking damages for emotional distress, physical injuries and attorneys' fees, the complaint says.
Bronx Community Board 2 covers South Bronx neighborhoods including Hunts Point and Longwood. Members declined to comment on the EEOC complaint.
"These people were so horrible to me," Sadiq said, "and I was so certain that everything was fine."