God Woke me up in the Morning

root - Posted on 07 October 2009

Racism at Lucas Films

by Byron Gafford/PNN Race and Poverty Scholar

God woke me up at three o clock in the morning, a typical
salutation used by Byron Gafford to greet people in the mornings.
Upon my first introduction with Byron a few months ago, I found him to
be an extremely kind-hearted and friendly man, often with a smile on
his face. The first thing I discovered about him was that he was a
passionate and creative writer. He has written over 80,000 poems and
keeps all of them extremely organized by number, day, and title. He
is a spiritual man who practices positive thinking and enjoys living

On Wednesday, March 25, 2009, he was let go from his position as a
contracted security guard at the George Lucas Building B on 1
Letterman Street in San Francisco, California. Byron was culturally,
racially, and religiously discriminated against based on that greeting
to a female Lucas employee that morning.

"Every day, like I've been doing for the past seven months, when the
employees enter into the lobby I would greet them with Good Morning
and God Bless You and no one ever responded back to me in a negative
way", says Byron. "I greeted everyone the same way. I never knew that
I offended anyone and no one ever mentioned to me that I was offensive
in my greetings to any employees. My supervisors have never expressed
to me that my greetings were inappropriate".

We at Poor Magazine are exposing George Lucas in their blatant
discrimination against Byron Gafford. They have made what Dr. Wade
Nobles defines as a "transubstantive error" by interpreting his
comment as inappropriate, yet they are without explanation or notice
of his termination. They have fired him on an illogical and illegal
basis and we need to put a stop to this hypocrisy. We will not allow
Darth Vader to strike.

Transubstantive error is defined as making a wrong and assumptive
conclusion about a meaning and value of peoples by looking at their
surface behaviors. In the sixties the Assistant Secretary of Labor
Daniel Moynihan was assigned to examine the black family as part of a
welfare study ordained by President Johnson. Upon his assignment he
made a transubstantive error by deeming the black family environment
as, "broken home [that] would cause negative things to occur in the
development of children".

Dr. Nobles is a tenured professor in Black Studies at San Francisco
State University and the Executive Director of the Institute for The
Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture in Oakland,
California. He says that Daniel Moynihan made the first mistake by
interpreting their values and behaviors from his own European culture.

"He draws the wrong conclusion", says Dr. Nobles. "So the entire
time he is examining them, there was this whole notion of families
with womyn without husbands raising children, which he deemed a broken

Dr. Nobles goes on to conclude that, "The mistake he was making was
that the instillation of values in the development of children is not
tied to mother-father linkage, it is tied to a system of eldership.A system of eldership does not believe in just a nuclear family to
raise children, but it is the responsibility of both the immediate and
extended families to raise them, including aunts, uncles,
grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, and so on.
Almost like a hierarchy of eldership, all of these elements contribute
to, improving the development of children. And so you have African
American people behaving in a certain way that is uncommon and
unfamiliar to someone with a European background, and it becomes
misinterpreted and seen as broken, or wrong and less than, thus
causing a transubstantive error.

In this particular incident, the female employee of George Lucas
found Byron's morning greeting to be offensive. However, by her
placing that negative judgment upon Byron, like Daniel Moynihan, she is
committing a transubstantive error. She, as a white womyn with a
Eurocentric background, is deeming Byron's entire cultural value
system as inappropriate as he is a spiritual man and an African
American man.

The day started out as a typical day. Byron started his shift at
6:30 a.m. as a security guard at the George Lucas Building B childcare
lobby. He was contracted by Advanced-Tech Security Services and has
been there since September 9, 2008. By 6:45 a.m., he was at his post
and by 7 a.m., the building was open.

At 7:35 a.m., Byron was at his desk performing his post duties when a
Lucas female employee came into the lobby. As is customary, he greeted her politely and commented that "God
woke me up at three o' clock in the morning". A reference to his late night work schedule.
The female employee departed while Byron continued with his duties.

He continued his day and took his first fifteen-minute break at 8
a.m., lunch at 10:30 a.m., and his third break at 1 p.m. However, at
approximately 1:38 a.m., another ATS guard came and told him that Mike
Mitchell, his employer, wanted to see him. Byron went to Mike's
office upstairs, and his other supervisor Jim was also in the office.
Jim then proceeded to get out of his seat and close the door. When
they were all seated, Mike said that a Lucas employee went to the
people higher up and complained about Byron. She said he told her
that "God woke me up at three ˜o clock this morning". Byron told them
yes, he did say that. Yet without any further explanation, Mike and
Jim responded, "We have to let you go". They took his badge, told him
to leave, and told him that would no longer be an employee there,
leaving Byron unclear about the situation.

This incident is an example of cultural digression and it is illegal.
As stated under Federal Law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 (Title VII), it "prohibits employment discrimination based on
race, color, religion, sex, or national origin". Byron is an African
American man and is a spiritual man, and George Lucas is
discriminating against Byron based on his culture, his race, and his
religion, resulting in the loss of his position. They issued him no
write up or any warning, and prior to this incident Byron had no
complaints on his record.

"George Lucas is a media corporation", says Tiny, editor of Poor
Magazine. "They supposedly produce diverse media, but have judged
and decided on someone else's value system and fired him. Byron is a
writer, he is hard working, he is supporting a family".

Byron Gafford was an innocent bystander caught in a transubstantive
error and was wrongly let go of his position under federal
discrimination and without any legal justification. We need to
combine our forces against George Lucas and expose this hypocrisy
before they strike again in our community.


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