A Virginia county official is apologizing after he called a black reporter “boy” during a public meeting.
Tracy Pyles, an Augusta County supervisor, loudly voiced his disagreement with an article written by the reporter, Calvin Trice, during a staff meeting Monday, reported The News Leader.
“You got it wrong, boy – uh, son,” Pyles said, unable to avoid using the racial slur.
Trice, a 43-year-old government affairs reporter for The News Leader, said he expected Pyles to be angry about his article on a closed meeting that was held improperly – but he didn’t expect the official to use racially charged language.
“The context was obviously angry and that’s a term that when its been used against me was a racial slur, a put-down,” Trice said.
The reporter said he was offended by the supervisor’s comment, which he said made their disagreement “uncomfortably personal.”
Pyles said he understands the word has historically been used in a derogatory way against black people, but the official said he speaks to everyone the way he does to his sons.
“I have boys. ‘Listen boy, you can’t do that,’” Pyles said. “That’s the way I talk to them. The fact that I think of Calvin no differently than I do anybody else, it came out, but I know the world looks at things differently.”
Pyles said he knew his remarks would be “misinterpreted” as soon as the words left his mouth, and he said he tried to correct his phrasing mid-sentence.
“I understand how people take that, and it’s because how I talk naturally, you know to everybody or anybody who would be of about that age, and I followed it up with, as soon as it came out of my mouth,” he said. “I immediately went to ‘son.'”
Pyles sent an email to Trice apologizing for his remarks after The News Leader called him seeking comment.
Trice said he had accepted the official’s apology.
“I really appreciated it,” Trice said. “He did mention, and he seemed to be sincere, that he hoped I haven’t felt any different from any other member of the media … and honestly that’s true.”