Learning lessons is hard. A news anchor in Pittsburgh is doing just that after her pretty racist Facebook post sparked outrage.
WTAE’s Wendy Bell was fired after posting what most sane people would consider a racist collection of words. Bell is now suing the station claiming that her statements would not have been inappropriate if she wasn’t white.
And right you are there, Wendy!
Context is wild, isn’t it? It’s sort of like how I don’t get mad when my mother calls me “boo boo” but I get pretty angry when that greasy dude on the A train does it! Weird. The post in question was regarding a shooting in Wilkinsburg, PA in March, in which five people, one of whom was pregnant, were killed:
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts,” Bell wrote March 21. “They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
And here’s the kicker:
No arrests have been made in the case.
NBC reports that Bell is claiming racial discrimination and a civil rights violation because why the hell not? Her lawyer argues:
“Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her,” the lawsuit reads. “Ms. Bell’s posting of concern for the African-American community stung by mass shooting was clearly and obviously not intended to be racially offensive.”
What I love about these arguments from white people—that if a black person said something it wouldn’t be considered racist—is that it ignores the very true fact that a black person would almost never say whatever ridiculous shit they said.
Let me hip you to something most people of color deal with regularly.
Let’s say a tragedy strikes—a shooting, a terrorist attack, illegal dog fighting. Details trickle out slowly. We still don’t know who committed this awful offense. In that gap between something bad happening and finding out who the bad guy is, pretty much every black, Latino, Arab, Muslim, or any brown person who could be confused as either Arab or Muslim, waits anxiously. You know what we’re doing? Silently praying that it wasn’t one of us.
Not because we believe that a person who happens to be black or Muslim committing a crime makes it any worse, but we know that (white) America will jump to that exact conclusion. Then we have to spend the next few weeks listening to and dealing with all the coded and outright racist and bigoted fallout. If it’s something really big, that backlash sticks around even longer.
Point being, even if a black person did assume that a bunch of black men had committed a mass murder, they almost certainly wouldn’t have mused about it on a public Facebook page with nearly 250,000 followers.
Bell also told the Associated Press that she was simply worried about “African-Americans being killed by other African-Americans.” Who wants to tell Wendy that white people kill other white people at roughly the same rate? Are you saying Wendy doesn’t care about white on white crime? Um, sounds kinda racist.
But guys, don’t worry. Wendy Bell is one of those good white people who allows herself, every once in awhile, to bestow upon black people a smidgen of humanity. In the same post (via Wonkette), Bell wrote this great bit of fan fiction:
But there is HOPE. and Joe and I caught a glimpse of it Saturday night. A young, African American teen hustling like nobody’s business at a restaurant we took the boys to over at the Southside Works. This child stacked heavy glass glasses 10 high and carried three teetering towers of them in one hand with plates puled high in the other. He wiped off the tables. Tended to the chairs. Got down on his hands and knees to pick up the scraps that had fallen to the floor. And he did all this with a rhythm like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s going to Make it… “I wonder how long it has been since someone told him he was special.”
I should also note her subtle language choices—using “black” to describe criminals but “African American” to talk about a black person picking up scraps of food off the floor. It’s those subtle little nuggets of racism that really keep me going.
Honestly sometimes you gotta have a chuckle at racism like this and, before I read this story, I was hoping for better. In 2016, I need you to come correct with your racism. Work hard for your racism. Put your back into it. Give me some racism I can really marvel at. This? This is just lazy.
Bell is seeking damages, lawyers fees, back pay and she wants her job back. She is still writing posts on Facebook.
Image via CBS News.