A Denver doctor has been suspended from seeing patients indefinitely after she called first lady Michelle Obama monkey face” on Facebook then insisted her comments were not racist. According to the local ABC affiliate KMGH, Dr. Michelle Herren, who is an anesthesiologist at Denver Health Medical Center and an assistant professor at Colorado University School of Medicine, posted an unflattering photo of Michelle on Facebook with the caption “doesn’t seem to be speaking too eloquently here, thank god we can’t hear her! Harvard??? That’s a place for “entitled” folks said all the liberals!” Herren then wrote that she wasn’t being racist, that she was just “calling it like it is”: She wrote:
“Monkey face and poor ebonic English!!! There! I feel better and am still not racist!!! Just calling it like it is”
Shocked by Herren’s comments, a fellow Facebook user JoAnn Nieto, sent an email to the Colorado University Board of Regents.
“Hiding behind the excuse that you’re not racist doesn’t negate the fact that you are being racist,” Nieto told KMGH.
Although Herren has since deleted the comment and taken down her entire Facebook page, she is still insisting her comments weren’t racist at all. In a phone interview with KMGH, she said her comments were taken out of context and that she didn’t realize the term monkey face was racist.
According to the Denver Post, the pediatric doctor will not be seeing patients at Denver Health Medical Center. It is unclear if Herren is being formally suspended. In a statement to the paper, Denver Health said:
“Until further notice, Michelle Herren, MD, will not be seeing patients or providing anesthesia services at Denver Health.”
In a previous statement to the Post, Denver Health said they couldn’t fire Herren for her “off-duty” comments.
“While the leadership of Denver Health is appalled by these remarks, as a public entity we are constrained by both state and federal law, including the First Amendment right of free speech, to terminate any employee for their off-duty comments, regardless of how offensive their comments may be”
Source: Denver Post/KMGH