Jigaboos & Wannabes: Fox News Anchors & Accidental Racism?
This morning, and Cleveland Fox News Anchor Kristi Capel used the word Jigaboo in reference to Lady Gaga’s musical styling after Gaga did a stunning tribute to the Sound of Music at the 87th Oscars. As Capel rattled off this statement that I’m sure was intended to be a diatribe dipped in jest, it fell completely flat because she used a word that had nothing to do with the subject at hand. Though I’m typically the first to jump on the “she may be a bigot” bandwagon, I slowly climbed into the wagon versus tucking and rolling into the shotgun position.
More than being upset about her rattling off a very charged word, I’m more upset that she as a professional, and a person that we in Northeast Ohio trust to be the voice of our local news, decided to try out unfamiliar vocabulary on live television. Kristi Capel should have a relatively high command of the English language, and with said command, should know how not to use a word that she doesn’t fully understand.
Had Kristi said “No shade… Lady Gaga’s music is perpetually on fleek; but I didn’t know her vocals could turn up in that manner! I was delivert!” We would have shook our heads, and probably laughed with her. But many people aren’t laughing at all.
Of course people took to Twitter to challenge what Kristi had to say, and she pretty much used a canned tweet to reply to multiple folks before she gave up all together. A word of advice? A copy & pasted apology seems more disingenuous than just one tweet that apologizes for it all.
Implicit Bias is very real, and often times, we all have the propensity to say things we didn’t know we had tucked away in our psyches. This type of bias is not just the problem of an individual, but it is systemic and incredibly difficult to see and understand, especially if you’ve been blind to it.
Perhaps Kristi can spend some time scanning the Racial Slur Database. Yes. It’s a real thing. Though it’s been updated over the years, when I first took a gander at this database almost 25% of all the slurs were directed towards Black/African-Americans. It’s incredibly difficult to know that a particular subgroup of people with African decent makes up one fourth of all the slurs worldwide. But that’s another conversation for another blog, on another day.
Source Racial Slur Database
We often times are more forgiving when a racial infraction is candy coated in sheer ignorance. But I think we should really challenge ourselves to be equally as enraged by micro-aggressive statements such as what Kristi said, as we are about police violence and other forms of oppression. We have to be intentional about seeing the connections of oppressions both great and small. I believe that John Legend & Common did an awesome job of alluding to that during their Oscar acceptance speech. When John Legend said “There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” Our minds should be readily available to see the connections of why the work has to be done on multiple levels for us to journey toward a world with decreased disenfranchisement.
There’s a clear reason why people are upset with Kristi’s oblivious ramblings. People look to News Anchors with trust, and though local Fox 8 News Cleveland is leaps and bounds better than Fox News itself, people are now looking at this station, unfortunately, with greater scrutiny.
So it comes down to this. Don’t use words you don’t know. Don’t use words where you might be unsure of the definition. Don’t use words that you struggle to pronounce. And always… when in doubt… just smile and close your mouth