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.

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 columnist for GQ.com, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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