A Georgia school official who singled out black people in a tirade during a graduation ceremony said Monday that she doesn't think what she said was racist.
Videos that circulated on social media over the weekend show TNT Academy's director, Nancy Gordeuk, becoming increasingly irritated by a rowdy audience at the ceremony before she chides: "Look who's leaving — all the black people." The videos ignited furor on Twitter and Facebook, with many calling for Gordeuk to be fired.
But Gordeuk said Monday that she doesn't understand the uproar. She said she's not a racist and doesn't think what she said was racist. "I didn’t know ‘black people’ was a racist term. I didn’t say the N-word or anything like that 'cause that isn’t in my vocabulary," Gordeuk said.
Gordeuk said she has received angry emails and wonders whether it's her choice of words that made people so angry. "People always think the worst, you know. You say the word 'black,' you know. Was I supposed to say African-American? Were they all born in Africa? No, they’re Americans," she said.
On Saturday, Gordeuk also defended her choice to call out the black people. "When I looked up, all I saw was black families leaving, and thus the comment," she said.
But she also apologized in a letter. "I lost control and spit out the words that do not even seem like they came from me. However, the devil works in various ways," she told NBC News.
Gordeuk has saidshe is dedicated to her students, and that is why she is determined to keep TNT open, even if it means taking a leave of absence. "We’re going to continue as is. Whether we lose students or not, we still have a mission," she said.
— Sarah Dallof and Elisha Fieldstadt