A news anchor in Atlanta, Georgia named Sharon Reed is being praised for how she responded to a viewer’s hate-filled email, which referred to Reed using the n-word.
Reed addressed the email and its sender on the air on the evening of December 5, not long after the troubling missive was sent. Though it’s not entirely clear what prompted the viewer, named Kathy Rae, to lash out at Reed, the exact circumstances don’t matter. As Reed made clear when she discussed the manner, using hateful language is unacceptable.
Kathy Rae’s email, which was shown on air, also called for Reed to be fired because, as Kathy understood it, the news anchor had stated it was acceptable “for blacks to discuss certain subjects but not whites.”
In addition to sharing the email on TV, Reed also posted it on her Facebook page and noted that it is not the first time she has been referred to using that racist term. “See ya at 11 on CBS46 with the latest results in the Atlanta mayor’s race," she concluded.
In her on-air response to Kathy Rae’s words, which Reed read aloud, she remained cool and direct.
“You mischaracterized what I said,” Reed explained. “I didn’t say that white people couldn’t talk about race. Quite the contrary, 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.”
After explaining that she and her colleagues decided to broach the subject of race in the mayoral election in an effort to “keep it real,” Reed had one final piece of pragmatic advice for Kathy Rae. “When arguing with somebody, you have to be careful not to mischaracterize their viewpoint," she stated before taking her own point to heart. “So I won't mischaracterize your view either, Kathy Rae. I get it.”
Reed added, “On December 5, 2017, you think it's okay to call this journalist a n―r. I don't, but I could clap back and say a few things to you. But instead, I'll let your words, Kathy Rae, speak for themselves."
By reading Kathy Rae’s own words, Reed let viewers draw their own conclusions about her and what she stands for. As Buzzfeed News noted, many online users praised Reed for her expert handling of the situation.
Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates recently expressed why he doesn’t feel white people have the right to use the n-word — in any situation.
“Words don’t have a meaning without context,” he told a group of high school students in Illinois earlier this year. “When you’re white in this country, you’re taught that everything belongs to you. You think you have a right to everything, and you are conditioned this way. The laws and the culture tell you this. To be black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you can’t join in and do. I think there’s actually a lot to be learned from refraining.”