Thoughts On WTAE-TV Anchor Wendy Bell (The "White Privilege Turducken") Getting Fired Today

WTAE-TV screenshot
WTAE-TV screenshot

When I wrote about WTAE-TV anchor Wendy Bell's racially problematic Facebook post last week, I began by stating I did not intend for her to get fired. This was true then and is still true now. I wasn't writing with that aim. And even now, after learning she was let go earlier today, I don't feel particularly happy about it. Mainly because the process of seeing, being disappointed by, assessing, and writing/tweeting/talking about a powerful and/or prominent media figure doing something like this is exhausting. Too exhausting to mine some legitimate joy from it. Equally exhausting is the process of explaining why what Bell said was wrong to people who either don't see or choose not to see why it was. I guess the word to describe how I might be feeling is vindicated. But I wouldn't even say that. I'm just tired of the fatiguing but necessary task of exposing Wendy Bells.

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That said, I don't feel bad for her either. She very much deserved to get fired. She earned this. Her post, the edits, the hysterical deleting of critical comments, her sorry, not-sorry apology — these were all symptoms of a sickness. A specifically American aliment that plagues some of our White brethren and sistren; convincing them that their worldviews and opinions and thoughts and feelings are the only ones that matter. When people allude to "White Privilege" and "White Fragility" (and jokingly refer to it with "White Tears") this is what they're talking about. The idea that their Whiteness is omniscient and inherently superseding. Considering America's history and present, it's admittedly understandable why they'd believe that. But understandable is a reason. It is not an excuse. Not today. And a person afflicted with this sickness — especially one who seemed not to even realize it existed in her, and scoffed at the suggestion that it did — is not fit to be a journalist.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

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Madame Zenobia

See, I think firings like this continue to protect White privilege and fragility. It lets the wrong doer become a victim in many ways. Now the story is about "PC culture" and "freedom of speech" and all the stupid buzz words used by the dumb mfs who don't see anything wrong with what she said initially. She's going to get empathy and sympathy and ultimately get another job elsewhere and come out better a la Imus/Bounty Hunter.

No, I want you to be wrong and on display for your wrongness to be seen. I want your nose rubbed in it, like when you're trying to housebreak a puppy. The appropriate thing to do would have been to make her research why what she did and said was wrong then broadcast it as a week long series. Suspend her from the anchor desk until she did it.

Firing her is too easy. It fixes nothing and nobody. Not her, not the dummies on her page who saw nothing wrong with her comments. Penance. Where's her penance? That's would make me feel better, real penance and consequences. Not just a firing.