Just a joke? (Sept. 4)

by Debbie Norrell, Lifestyles Editor

Did you hear the story about the news anchor in Oklahoma that told her co-anchor that he looked like a gorilla? This might have sneaked by you if you’re not on social media or you don’t listen to talk shows. I listened to both the original statement and the apology the next day.

Last week, Alex Housden and Jason Hackett, anchors at KOCO 5 News, were covering a story about Fin, a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo that recently went viral.

Housden was talking about the story and said, “Now as you can see, Fin was fascinated by the camera.” Hackett fondly replied, “You can tell that he was ready for his close-up.”

But then, Housden suddenly said, “(He) kinda looks like you.”

It seems these types of stories are becoming commonplace. Someone that is in front of the camera will make a statement about blackface, or young boys dancing and then the next day they make a huge apology and say they didn’t know it was offensive. For a few days it is a big media story and then it makes its way to talk radio and it is passed off as “just a joke.” Most of the people who I have heard say the comment was just a joke are White. They don’t understand or are not aware of the years of abuse that Black people have suffered being compared to apes, monkeys and gorillas. Blacks are told to “get over it.” Instead of an apology, I think the news anchor or public person that makes these kinds of comments should instead explain what they meant in detail when the statement was made, what were they thinking and if this is how you think most of the time. People have referred to this as a teachable moment so let’s really learn something here. How do you really feel and how did you think your co-anchor, who you claim to be a friend, felt when you made that statement that you thought was funny and cute? Here is what the man who was called a gorilla had to say:

“What she said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community. I want this to be a teachable moment (and) the lesson here is that words matter. The demographics are changing and there’s no excuse. We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other’s backgrounds. We have to find a way to replace those words with love and affirmation. As broadcasters, words are the tools of our trade. What we need to do is use those words not to hurt and not to divide, but to build a more perfect union.”

However, many did not buy her apology and wanted her fired from her job at KOCO 5.


There are only three months left in 2019, if you have an event that you would like to have covered by me please email me with “request for coverage” in the subject line and give me the details.

(Email Debbie at debbienorrell@aol.com.)


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