Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey

Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey
"Infamous, this day in Memphis, city of my demise."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Obama B(l)acklash!

I wrote the following letter to the news director of Toledo's CBS affiliate, only to find out after a week-long stay in Columbus that Toledo's only African-America evening news anchor, Shenikwa Stratford was replaced by a white female. More Obama B(l)acklash - negative reaction to the election of America's first black President either due to the assumption that having a black President negates the need for affirmative action or post-election resentment rooted in racism. Either way, this is not acceptable and I won't be watching any local television news in Toledo except on weekend evenings.

Mr. Chirdon,

I'm not sure why Rev. Larry Whatley no longer does the traffic reports on Channel 11's morning news, but do you realize that with his absence there are now no African-Americans on local television news in the mornings? While your new female anchor is very professional and a good addition to your news team, there are several African-American reporters (Mikah Highsmith, for example) who could have been placed in that position when Melissa Voestch moved to a later newscast.

Unlike channels 24 and 13, Channel 11 does not seem interested in giving reporters the opportunity to develop their skills by putting them in morning anchor positions. Evening anchor on Channel 24, Shenikwa Stratford, developed her skills as an anchor this way, as did Efrem Graham and Kristen Brown, the weekend morning and evening anchors on Channel 13, respectively. These are all African-American broadcasters who were given the opportunity to advance.

I watch Channel 24 at 6pm and 11pm to see someone who looks like me reading the news; I also watch Channel 13 news Saturday and Sunday mornings and evenings for the same reason. I used to watch Channel 11 news weekday mornings because of Rev. Whatley. Our relationship goes back to 1990, when he worked for Channel 13, and had me on his show to discuss the debut of my theatre company, Toledo BlackStage, and its debut production, my original musical play, "Juneteenth." I am a loyal fan of his and the other reporters previously mentioned.

I am no more hesitant to admit I am happy to see African-Americans on the news than Italian Americans, Greek Americans, Polish Americans, or any other ethnic groups are happy to see people of their ethnic group in the public eye. However, there seems to be this b(l)acklash to having a black President. There have been some positives and they are welcome. But there also seem to be some unwelcome negatives, such as African-Americans suddenly disappearing from public eye, as in the case of Rev. Whatley.

While you have every right to hire the most qualified professional to fill positions on your news team, as a journalist who never got the opportunity to be a reporter until African-American newspapers hired me, I understand the importance of giving people a chance to develop their talents. As a viewer, I'll be frank: I want to see African-Americans in every news cast I watch. I don't watch any of the evening newscasts of any of the three major networks - CBS, ABC, and NBC- because there are no African-American anchors on any of them.

This may not seem important to anyone else, but in 2009, the year America got its first black President, I don't think it's too much to ask that there is at least one African-American anchor on one of the major networks and on one of the three local morning news programs.

My only reason for watching Channel 11 was because Rev. Whatley was part of your team (I also love meteorologist, Mike Stone), but now that he's not there any more, I tend to turn to MSNBC as soon as I watch the weather report. I usually to wait until 6:00 to turn to "Morning Joe," but now I may just watch Headline news at 5:00, and get my local news and weather from The Blade, which does have African-American reporters.

G. J. Chapman
WTOL- viewer since 1988.

1 comment:

Revvy Rev said...

Thanks for the update. I had not heard this.