Washington: Racism Caused My Firing

Isaiah Washington in a scene from the ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy."
ABC Photo
Will Isaiah Washington ever let go?

In a Newsweek article, the embattled former "Grey's Anatomy" star who was fired after using a homosexual slur says he was let go because of racism, not because of the word he used.

"I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that 'some people' were afraid of me around the studio," he told Newsweek. "I asked her why, because I'm a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn't go around saying 'Yessah, massa sir' and 'No sir, massa' to everyone? It's nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family."

Everything came to light because Washington and co-star Patrick Dempsey had an argument and Washington ended up calling another co-star, T.R. Knight, a "faggot," something he later denied at the Golden Globes award ceremony. But when he denied the incident, he used the word, angering many people including some co-stars. At ABC's behest, Washington got counseling to address his homophobia.

What upset people was not so much what he said, Washington asserts to the Newsweek reporter, was that it came from an African-American man.

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"Someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me," he said. "I see that now, but I didn't then."

But he is not the only person that has made mistakes, Washington said. The difference is that white celebrities who mess up are forgiven.

"I apologized and showed my remorse for what I said and for the pain I caused anyone," he said. "If a black man can't get forgiveness in this country, when so many other people like Robert Downey Jr. and the governor of California get second and third chances … I think that says a lot about race and this country where we stand."