Receiving racially charged hate mail is nothing journalist Sharon Reed hasn’t experienced before. But after getting one this week, she decided she’d had enough.
Live during her 9 p.m. CBS46 show, Reed shared an email from viewer Kathyrae1962, who used the N word to describe the anchor.
“You need to be fired for the race-baiting comment you made tonight, It’s o.k. to discuss certain subjects, but not whites … Really??? You are what I call a Niger. Not a black person. You are a racist Niger. You are what’s wrong with the world, ” the email read, the slur spelled wrong.
In a video she shared to her professional Facebook page, Reed showed the world what journalists of color deal with on a daily basis and responded directly to Kathy Rae herself.
“Number one, you mischaracterized what I said,” Reed said. “I didn’t say that white people couldn’t talk about race. Quite the contrary; we think race is an authentic discussion to have … it’s one that’s clearly entered Atlanta’s mayor’s race. That’s why my colleagues and I, white and black, said let’s go for it. We keep it real here.”
Reed is referring to the recent mayoral race in Atlanta between city council members Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms. But Bottoms is black and Norwood is white. If Norwood won, she’d be the first white female mayor of Atlanta, according to ABC News. On the other hand, a Bottoms win “would continue a run of African-American mayors that began with Maynard Jackson in the mid-1970s.”
Kathie Rae didn’t want Reed talking about race, but Reed wasn’t backing down.
“When arguing with someone, you have to be careful not to miscategorize their viewpoint, so I won’t miscategorize your viewpoint,” Reed continued. “I get it, on Dec. 5, 2017, you think it’s OK to call this journalist a n*****. I don’t. I could clap back and say a few things to you. Instead, I’ll let your words, Kathie Rae, speak for themselves.”
Her video has gone viral and has been shared more than 84,000 times in less than 24 hours, with the majority of people applauding Reed’s monologue.
Them: "You can't be petty as a professional"
— Altif Brown (@altifbrown) December 6, 2017
— lah-juh (@fabuLaja) December 6, 2017
— Cyn Diesel (@Cynstyle) December 6, 2017
Yes! Her station really deserves a lot of credit for letting her speak out. Horrible social media comments rarely see the light of day and if people were held up like Kathy Rae is here,maybe they’d think twice before putting out hate.
— JennS (@jelisa12) December 6, 2017
Reed explains to Yahoo Lifestyle that her show is different from other news broadcasts because the anchors interact with their viewers more about what’s happening in the world. The racial identities of the mayoral candidates constituted as such.
Reed has worked at CBS46 for more than two years and says that she and other black journalists are familiar with these types of critiques. “It’s not the first, second, third, or hundredth — voicemails, emails — not necessarily to my face [but] over the phone,” she says. “When black journalists get together, we’ve all had these similar horror stories.”
But she felt like this one in particular needed to be addressed. She went to her manager, who gave her the green light to share the email without a problem.
“Do I care to shine a spotlight on a racist? Not really. Let’s move on. That said, there’s too many people getting too comfortable that we’re postracial,” she says.
She notes that she also responded to Kathie Rae’s email personally, reiterating her on-air comment and to tell her she made the show.
Kathie Rae emailed back, taking issue with Reed’s implying she was stupid.
But Reed has no regrets, except not telling her crew to show the full email.
“I don’t have to have an army of supporters. It’s inherently wrong,” she says. “To me, it was an easy decision.
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