NEWS

US Doctor Calls Michelle Obama 'Monkey Face,' But Says She's Not Racist

Dr. Michelle Herren was ordered to stop seeing patients at Denver Health Medical Center.

01/12/2016 23:54 SAST | Updated 05/12/2016 19:38 SAST
Carlos Barria / Reuters
First Lady Michelle Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law and Princeton University, also had her education criticized by Herren, who graduated from Creighton University School, according to an online profile.

A Colorado doctor has been ordered to stop seeing patients and is being fired from her medical school teaching job after calling first lady Michelle Obama “monkey face” on Facebook and defending herself as “still not racist.” 

Dr. Michelle Herren, a white pediatric anesthesiologist at Denver Health Medical Center and a faculty member at University of Colorado School of Medicine, made the comment after another Facebook user called Obama eloquent, The Denver Post reported.

Herren responded with an unflattering photo showing the first lady yelling, and this:

“Doesn’t seem to be speaking too eloquently here, thank god we can’t hear her!” a post attributed to Herren read. “Monkey face and poor ebonic English!!! There! I feel better and am still not racist!!! Just calling it like it is!”

The post also criticized Obama’s Ivy League education: “Harvard??? That’s a place for ‘entitled’ folks said all the liberals!”

Carlos Barria / Reuters
First Lady Michelle Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law and Princeton University, also had her education criticized by Herren, who graduated from Creighton University School, according to an online profile.

Obama is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Princeton University. Herren earned her medical degree at Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska, according to a U.S. News online profile.

JoAnn Nietto, who spotted Herren’s comments on a friend’s Facebook page, told ABC-7 News that she flagged the post for the University of Colorado medical board after it stayed there for four days.

“It really outraged me to see that she works at Denver Health, which serves a huge minority population,” Nietto told the Denver Post.

Herren, an assistant professor at University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, will lose her faculty appointment as a result of her Facebook post, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

“We are beginning the process to terminate Dr. Herren’s faculty appointment,” Mark Couch, spokesman for the school, told the newspaper. “She has expressed values that are at odds with ours and she has compromised her ability to meet the teaching and patient care mission of the School of Medicine.”

Herren has since taken down her Facebook page. She said her comments were taken “out of context” and claimed she didn’t realize the term “monkey face” is racist, according to ABC-7, which spoke to her by phone. Herren suggested there’s a double standard that permits insulting future first lady Melania Trump, but not Obama. HuffPost couldn’t reach Herren for further comment.

Denver Health, where Herren makes a reported $363,600 annual salary, said in a statement Wednesday that Herren “will not be seeing patients or providing anesthesia services” at the hospital until further notice. The hospital added that it was “deeply disappointed” as well as “offended” by Herren’s words.

“Her views are contrary to the mission and values of Denver Health, and to our staff and patients,” the statement said. “We are reaching out to all of our patients, employees and physicians to reinforce our culture, mission and beliefs that all individuals regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation are deserving of dignity and respect.” 

This article has been updated to include comments from the spokesman for the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

CORRECTION: An earlier version gave the wrong location for Creighton University School of Medicine. It’s in Nebraska.

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