You’d expect those in media to have a clear understanding of the rights and wrongs when it comes to racial insensitivity, but a pair of white TV reporters in Little Rock, Arkansas unfortunately reminded us that a job title can’t disguise ignorance.
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The aforementioned journalists for KATV caught themselves getting suspended after rocking synthetic Afro wigs during an on-air segment in September. For background reference, anchor Chris May and meteorologist Barry Brandt called themselves “celebrating” the temperature drop in Arkansas following an expected heat stroke in response to Little Rock’s 100-plus degree day on Sept 1. Being that the temps dropped into the ’70s, both white reporters thought it would be comedic to rock “70s attire” by way of afro wigs.
Here’s more on what led to their suspension, which also included KATV news director Nick Genty, via The Washington Post:
“In Little Rock, local activist Anika Whitfield ‘was not amused’ by the 70s segment, saying that a White person wearing an ‘Afro wig’ is a perpetuation of ‘systemic racism.’ She then complained to KATV management, the Arkansas Times reported. When they did not respond, according to the paper, Whitfield went to Seabers, who got back to her quickly.
‘We apologize to all viewers who were rightfully offended by the segment and we promise to enact and enforce new measures to prevent future incidents from occurring,’ Seabers wrote in a statement.
Seabers — who oversees Sinclair stations in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma — followed up by meeting with the Central Arkansas Association of Black Journalists. He was joined by Sinclair regional news director Blaise Labbe, who is taking over at KATV for the ousted Genty while the company hunts for a permanent replacement. Genty declined to comment when contacted by The Post; May and Brandt did not immediately respond to requests for comment.”
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While it may have simply been a poorly executed joke, this isn’t the first instance of racial issues over at KATV. One employee reported back in June of a “Mammy doll” hanging in a common area at the studio, leading to diversity training a month later. In addition to that, it’s reported that out of more than 40 people employed at KATV, only 8 are Black.
Get a glimpse at one of the suspended reporters wearing the ‘fro below:
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White Reporters Suspended For Wearing Afro Wigs During Live Broadcast was originally published on blackamericaweb.com