Richmond Chief in Racism Suit Defends ‘Master’ Gag

Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2012

Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus told a jury Wednesday that a picture he posted five years ago of one of his commanders with the caption “Master of Universe” was nothing but a lame joke, but an attorney for seven high-ranking black officers suing him for alleged racial bias said the gesture had an offensive message.

The caption beneath the photo of then-Capt. Lori Ritter, a co-defendant in the suit, in police headquarters was actually a slap at other commanders, letting them know she was about to be promoted over them to deputy chief, said lawyer Stephen Jaffe.


The African American commanders who sued Magnus were also offended by the “master” term, saying it implied a master-slave relationship. Both Magnus and Ritter are white.

Most of Wednesday was spent hearing testimony from Lt. Cleveland Brown, the latest of several plaintiffs to describe a racially tense atmosphere in the Police Department.

One of the key accusations involves the “Master of Universe” posting. Magnus said he mounted the picture on or around April 1, 2006, as a jibe to commanders after none responded to his request to post their photos.

Ritter was the only one who put her photo up, he said, so he jokingly posted 12 of her with captions sporting job titles from recruit to deputy chief to chief, and finally “Master of Universe.”



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  • Anonymous

    I experienced this sort of semantics wrangling in the communications field. Black workers objected to the terms “master” and “slave” for male and female electronic ports (I suppose referring to those ports as “male” or “female” is also sexist and misogynistic of me).

    So as not to offend, can we replaced the word “master” when it is used in any context, with the term “Martin Luther King Jr.” From now on, in order to avoid offending hyphenated Americans of all stripes, I will refer to myself as “a jack of all trades, but a Martin Luther King Jr. of none.”

    Everyone satisfied?

  • It was just a gag.  However, anyone who goes around making jokes about “master of the universe” when their situation is suburban Police Chief or the Light Colonel (Assistant Chief) of the same is probably a jerk who, when he gets a wee little bit of power, abuses it to the hilt, and behaves like he really is the master of the universe.

    The irony of these blacks suing him is that it’s a none too uncommon trait of blacks (especially black women) who get a little bit of power.

  • Awwww, diddums! quite frankly I’m glad the 61 IQ retards are offended.

  • Oil Can Harry

    “Most of Wednesday was spent hearing testimony from Lt. Cleveland Brown…”

    Were his friends Peter Griffin and Glenn Quagmire in attendance?

  • Rocky Mountain

    They may not cringe and cry when they are making silly claims like this.

  • Anonymous

    I can totally see their point.  I also take offense to the term “Chief” as it is offensive to Native Americans.  And while we are at it, let’s stop calling them “police” because of the negative connotation that is for the African American community.  Let’s call them, community enforcement officers.  That feels much nicer.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s an excellent example of the problems caused by hiring unqualified blacks under AA.  When they don’t qualify for promotion, the first thing they want to do is sue somebody. 

    And,  their nonsensical claims that the word “master” is racist?  Well, just consider that they also think Devil’s Food Cake is racist, because it’s black, and referring to a “black hole in space” is racist.

    I have no sympathy for the city for being sued.  They turned down qualified whites in order to get blacks on the force so they’re going to have to pay the price now for their disgusting altruism.

    Richmond is in the process of laying off public employees due to budget shortfalls, and this coming fiscal period will be much worse.

    (Oct 16, 2011 – Richmond alone eliminated or left unfunded 196 positions in this year’s budget. )

    Since the blacks have less seniority, will they be the first to go and, if so, will they file other lawsuits for discrimination?

    Hiring blacks is just asking for trouble.

  • If this is the kind of stuff these black cops are  whining about, I don’t doubt there was a “racially tense atmosphere at this department brought on by them.

  • Jim

    Why are blacks forever displaying their inability to grasp some pretty elemental things? 20 years ago there was a kids show called “Masters of the Universe” , and adults have often used the title of the show jokingly to come across as comically grandiose.   

    • I remember working in IT about a decade ago and blacks were complaining that the master/slave terms for hard drives was racist. 

      • Anonymous

         Going on and on using this kind terminology is obtuse. Sometimes there are things that are obtuse and insensitive in a small and persistent way, and this is one of them. The automobile industry long ago stopped using the term “slave cylinder” for the brake cylinder at the wheel which applies pressure to the brake shoes in drum brake applications. The main brake cylinder which generates the pressure which is then distributed to the individual wheels is still called the master cylinder, but small one at the wheel is called a “wheel cylinder”. In the case of disc brakes, a “caliper”.

        How about “primary” and “secondary” drives. Is it really that hard, so that the occasional black guy who works in the computer industry won’t have to put up with this small insult and unpleasant reminder on a daily basis?

        • Anon

          Insult?  They have to put up these “insults” daily?   THEY insult and offend us daily. Do we get any relief from the black insults/assaults on Whites 24/7? 

          BTW, where do blacks get off using the slave term to “keep us in line”?  There were millions more WHITE slaves throughout history!  So knock it off.

          • Anonymous

             Not arguing with you. This is one single issue that pertains to one industry that has never had any large number of blacks working in it especially on the technician and engineer side. Priorities should be put where they belong.

            Creating this kind of terminology in the first place was  something that never should have been done. The auto parts industry, which I am sure is infinitely less educated than the high tech world, was able to politely and in a practical manner deal with the subject. In case you didn’t notice, I was mocking techies and the high tech subculture. They are some of the most culturally obtuse and traitorous people in today’s world.

    •  With few exceptions, irony is foreign to Blacks.