by Michael Cottman
It seems like a troubling trend: Racists targeting black women in the media.
The recent hate-filled note written to Jemele Hill began this way: “Hell, I don’t like women broadcasters to begin with, yet alone bitch jungle bunnies …this “spear chucker needs to go away.”
“Get her outa here before she back-slides into some ebonics -laden inarticulate mumbo jumbo tirade,” the viewer wrote.
“Short sound bites from male (black) jocks is tolerable. But, I’m not interested in spending all day listening to some thick-lipped gorilla, attempting to properly speak the king’s English.”
I suppose I can dismiss these racist rants against one ignorant bigot, but now it appears as if it’s open season on black women in television – a pattern I hope will end quickly.
Three months ago, Rhonda Lee, an African American meteorologist, was fired from her ABC affiliate in Shreveport, La., after she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station’s Facebook page in reference to her short Afro hairstyle.
Lee was hastily fired simply for defending her hairstyle after the viewer suggested that she wear a wig or start growing more hair. The viewer’s comments were racially inflammatory—yet Lee got the ax.
On Oct. 1, a viewer identified as Emmitt Vascocu wrote, “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still it’s not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news. what about that.”
And last year, two white people who were attending the Republican National Convention had to be removed from the building in Tampa after they threw peanuts at Patricia Carroll, a black CNN camera operator, and shouted, “This is how we feed animals.”
“I hate that it happened,” Carroll told Richard Prince, who writes a diversity column, “Journal-isms”, for the Maynard Institute, “but I’m not surprised at all.”
“This is Florida, and I’m from the Deep South,” said Carroll, a 34-year-old from Alabama.
“You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don’t think I should do.”
And she offered this observation about the GOP convention: “There are not that many black women there.”
These racists are cowards –men who pick on unassuming women and men who are apparently seething with hate.
What kind of man throws peanuts at a woman and likens her to an animal? What kind of man refers to a black woman as a “jungle bunny?”
These are the rants of racists who will probably never change their warped attitudes, but I’m hopeful that in 2013 more employers like CNN will support black women who are being racially harassed instead of firing women for responding to their bigoted critics.
Carroll thanked CNN, which “has been behind me 100 percent.” Although she was stationed on the floor next to Fox News, Carroll said the peanut throwers “didn’t know what I was doing. I happened to be standing there,” near one of the delegations.
“I can’t change these people’s hearts and minds,” Carroll added. “No, it doesn’t feel good. But I know who I am. I’m a proud black woman. A lot of black people are upset. This should be a wake-up call to black people. . . . People were living in euphoria for a while. People think we’ve gone further than we have.”She’s absolutely right.
For all the talk of a post-racial America after the historic election – and re-election – of President Barack Obama, it seems, at times, that America is seriously moving backward.
My hope for 2013 is that some of these misguided Americans engage in serious soul-searching and respect the nation’s ever-changing multicultural landscape – but I’m not holding my breath.