An Arkansas KATV news anchors Chris May and meteorologist Barry Brandt decided to celebrate the summer heat breaking and the return of seventy-degree temperatures by appearing on-air in Afro-hairstyle wigs as a “return to the 70s” schtick. And in spite of the long history of extremely bad white afros that covered the breadth of the decade and even lived on in legendary painter Bob Ross and workout mogul Richard Simmons, activist Abbie Hoffman, and comic Gene Shalit see this was interpreted as somehow offensive to black viewers. Naturally, Sinclair Broadcast Group overreacted faster than Superman on laundry day, fired its longtime news director Nick Genty, and indefinitely suspended broadcasters May and Brandt. Isn’t it strange how a cultural phenomenon which albeit originated as a black style, but was widely adopted and embraced by every culture around the world in the age of disco, is suddenly offensive in 2021?
According to baller alert, the forecast “attracted the attention of African American activist Dr. Anika Whitfield, who filed a complaint with WATV, alleging that having a “European American man” wear an Afro wig was a continuance of “systemic racism.” And the extremely predictable #cancelculture sequence began. But there’s a bit more to it. Apparently, a much quieter battle was already taking place.
According to The Daily Mail, “The controversial segment came weeks after KATV executives responded to an employee’s report of a Mammy doll – a racist caricature of a black woman – hanging in a cubicle shared by photographers and reporters.
The company investigated the doll in June, but did not figure out who put the doll there or why, although Seabers acknowledged to the Post that the doll was ‘racist and offensive.’
Because of the situation, he said, managers in July made a formal presentation to all KATV employees, training them in inclusion and hidden bias.
Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, tweeted that she had asked Seabers and Labbe about the doll in their meeting, and noted that the station employs more than 40 people, only eight of whom are black.
That accounts for less than 20 percent of the staff in a city with a population that’s 42 percent black.”
These facts taken together create an image of a news network already dealing with a PR nightmare locally which was likely to capture national attention due to a significantly less severe instance of ‘insensitivity’. In short, the Mammy doll being hung in a cubicle shared by reporters and photographers is 100% inappropriate. However, as noted above, people of European descent wearing the Afro hairstyle cannot be rationally interpreted as “systemic” or any other variety of racism. It was factually a popular hairstyle that originated in the black community and spread to multiple ethnicities GLOBALLY through the 1970s. The historic accuracy of this is indisputable. The context of the “return to the 70s” segment cannot possibly be mistaken for previous exploitative media such as black-face or minstrel shows. The assertion otherwise lacks any logical merit.
News Station Desperately Virtue Signals To #CancelCulture Mob
Sinclair and KATV-7 have subsequently fallen all over themselves to profusely apologize for the perceived slight of the Black community
KATV-7 apologies [sic] for the poor judgement of some members of our news team. Understanding the severity of the situation, we have taken swift action to address it. 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. We remain committed to serving the dynamic and diverse community of Little Rock.
The massive overreaction is in fitting with an organization reeling from a series of recent incidents of serious racial insensitivity choosing to scapegoat anyone involved in the very next ‘incident’ no matter with no discernment whatsoever. A reaction based on a tweet from Tucker after the firing of News Director Nick Gentry, apparently still, wasn’t good enough.
This just in: The News Director @KATVNews has been fired. @WeAreSinclair We hope this is an indication of your commitment to provide a newsroom that values and respects Black employees. https://t.co/UrmNMQ8dhs
— Dorothy Tucker NABJ (@Dorothy4NABJ) September 23, 2021