Don't call it a clap back, call it a take down!
Times are changing rapidly right now, and not everyone is keeping up with our society’s quickly shifting attitudes about gender, sexuality, religion, and race. In the state of Georgia, two candidates of different races were up for a governmental position, and it seemed that race was playing a large part in their politics and supporter bases. It wasn’t unlike when Senator Barack Obama beat John McCain for the office of President back in 2008 for some people.
As local news outlets reported on the election, hate spewed out into the public consciousness. One brave newswoman didn’t shy away from reporting on what really happened. Now, she’s being hailed as a hero.
A Heated Debate
In Atlanta, two councilwomen were vying to be mayor. As citizens weighed the pros and cons of each candidate, it was hard to ignore the racial component of this particular contest. Keisha Lance Bottoms is a black woman, and her opponent Mary Norwood is white.
Had Norwood won, she would have been the first white mayor since 1969, but it wasn’t meant to be. Keisha Bottoms won the mayoral race by fewer than 800 votes.
The results of the election were the talk of the town, so CBS 46 reporters Sharon Reed, Ben Swann, and Alicia Roberts didn’t shy away from discussing the racial aspects of the election. Sharon Reed ― the only person of color in the trio ― received an email from an angry viewer while she was live on the air.
Instead of ignoring the nasty message, Sharon stopped the show to use the email as a teaching tool to illustrate how people were reacting to this election and how pervasive racism still is in this day and age.
One Nasty Email
When Sharon was asked by her co-anchor Alicia Roberts to discuss the messages they had been receiving about how race played a role in the election, she said that there was some “confusion behind the scenes.”
“A woman by the name of Kathy Rae emailed me. We’re going to put that email on the screen and then I’ll comment after it. I think it’s fair for people to see what she wrote,” Sharon stated while pointing at the camera.
A viewer using the handle kathyrae1962 wrote into the news program,
“You need to be fired for the race-baiting comment you made tonight. It’s o.k. for blacks to discuss certain subjects but not whites. Really??? You are what I call a N***er not a black person. You are a racist N***er. You are what’s wrong with the world.”
It was not made clear what statement by Sharon the viewer was responding to.
Sharon’s first point to Kathy was that the viewer mischaracterized what was said on the air. “We think that race is an authentic discussion to have. It’s one we’re having tonight because it’s one that you are talking about at home and it’s one that has clearly entered the Atlanta mayor’s race,” the anchor explained. Sharon believes that she and her co-anchors keep it real when discussing serious matters.
Threats of Violence
Sharon continued about what Kathy’s email contained:
“When arguing with somebody you have to be careful not to mischaracterize their viewpoint, so I won’t mischaracterize your view either, Kathy Rae. I get it. On Dec. 5, 2017, you think it’s okay to call this journalist a ‘n**ger.’ I don’t.”
Sharon decided to take the high road and let the viewer’s hateful speech speak for itself. “[…] I could clap back and say a few things to you. But instead I’ll let your words, Kathy Rae, speak for themselves. And that will be the last word,” Sharon concluded.
Sharon may not call it a clap-back, but she had many Americans clapping for her confident, professional, and fierce words.
Some of Sharon’s fans went so far as to seek out “Kathy Rae” and bombard her with hatemail, but the person that caught the ire of dozens of people wasn’t the same person who wrote the email to Sharon. A few days later, Sharon went back on the air to tell her fans that they needed to stop harassing people over the incident.
“You threatened a woman named Kathy Rae with violence. Not OK. That woman, the wrong Kathy Rae, has been bombarded. Her employer has gotten emails demanding she be fired,” Sharon told viewers.
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