A senior administrator with the Federal Air Marshal Service has been removed from his leadership position while the agency investigates a "culturally insensitive" remark he made on a recent conference call, CNN confirmed Tuesday.
John A. Novak, assistant director of the service, dismissed a black colleague's suggestion that the agency hold regional meetings to improve communications by saying such meetings are "nothing but traveling minstrel shows with people with banjos and guitars," said a senior government official familiar with the investigation.
The reference to minstrel shows, in which white performers in blackface lampooned African Americans, was offensive, the senior official said.
"It was dumb. It was stupid. It was egregious," added the official, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name. The official was not authorized to speak about the case publicly.
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