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Christian Head, Black UCLA Medical School Doctor, Files Lawsuit After Alleged Gorilla Depiction

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: Updated: 05/22/2012 6:05 pm

A faculty professor who filed a racial discrimination suit against UCLA, saying that the school ignored racial slights against him over his career, has taken to YouTube to air his grievances.

In a six-minute YouTube video, Dr. Christian Head, an otolaryntologist at the UCLA's medical school, says he was the subject of repeated criticism during an annual event in which residents performed mocking roasts of their professors.

"In the final slide was a photo…of a gorilla, on all fours, with my head Photoshopped onto the gorilla with a smile on my face," Head says in the video. "And a Caucasian man, completely naked, sodomizing me from behind, and my boss' head Photoshopped onto the person smiling."

Head later complained to his superiors at the hospital, but says he was told "if you want tenure, [and] make a big stink about this, they're going to crush you."

After he was awarded tenure, Head said that the university cut his pay in retaliation for his complaints and blocked him from teaching.

The video states that Head is the first and only African-American tenured professor at UCLA's department of head and neck surgery. Late last month, Head filed suit against the California Board of Regents, the body that governs the University of California system. According to the L.A. Times, the suit specifically names Marilene Wang and Gerald Burke, who are also otolaryntologists. Head accuses them of making "inappropriate racial comments and insinuations about blacks" over several years.

But a spokesperson for the university told the Los Angeles Times that university officials had "investigated this matter and found that the evidence does not substantiate the claims of unlawful activity."

An online petition accompanying the video was addressed to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, and called on him "to take the necessary actions to restore UCLA’s reputation as a renowned academic institution that embraces diversity, promotes equality and treats its diverse employees, faculty and students with the dignity they deserve." The petition amassed 1700 signatures as of press time.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the video referred to Head as the only African-American tenured professor at UCLA's school of medicine. The video actually states that Head is the only African-American tenured professor at the school's department of head and neck surgery.

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