Posted on February 23, 2021

Longtime Bronx Teacher Fired for Refusing to Make Black Panther Salute

Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, February 21, 2021

A teacher from the Bronx said she was fired after refusing to make the cross-arm “Wakanda forever” salute to black power during a school superintendent meeting.

Rafaela Espinal, a Dominican American who identifies as Afro-Latina, said she was criticized for refusing to produce the gesture from the 2018 Marvel Comics film Black Panther, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month.

Espinal filed a Manhattan Supreme Court suit against the city’s Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza and other top officials alleging she was “admonished” and told it was “inappropriate for her not to participate” in the salute by then-Bronx Superintendent Meisha Ross Porter.

The $40 million suit alleges Espinal was told by the DOE that she wasn’t “black enough,” and she should “just learn to be quiet and look pretty.”


A similar incident involved veteran Bronx Superintendent Karen Ames, who said she was targeted by the department for demotion after she called the district’s equity platform a “platform used to create gender, age, racial and ethnic divisions in the NYC School system,” the New York Post reported.

Ames refused to create the “Wakanda Forever” hand gesture, which reportedly led to conflicts with other members of the school board. {snip}