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I Didn’t Think It Was Possible, But Yes, In 2019 ‘Educated’ People Are Still Calling Black People ‘Gorillas’

In another episode of “How Many Times Do I Have To Say Ouch?” an Oklahoma TV anchor Alex Housden said a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo “kind of looks like you” to her Black cohost Jason Hackett. Now the morning TV anchor is getting a, clearly, extremely overdue lesson on the ignorance and severe consequences of such comparisons.

Housden made an apology the next morning on her show.

https://youtu.be/lGqklWq3ubk “I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, it was inappropriate, and I hurt people,” Housden said crying. She really ramps up the white fragility real quick.  

But while her co-anchor Hackett is the victim, she has bee the one crying since.

https://twitter.com/CocoTheLeo/status/1166507091428892676 “I understand how much I hurt you out there and how much I’ve hurt you. I love you so much, and you have been one of my best friends for the past year and a half. And I would never do anything on purpose to hurt you. And I love our community and I want you all to know, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for what I said. I know it was wrong and I am so sorry.”

We have to do better than this.

https://twitter.com/hotchef9/status/1166457033513689088  Housden did not acknowledge that what she said was racist. She did not even acknowledge what she said. Her apology is basically, “Sorry, I hurt you.” I mean, it could be an apology for missing lunch. In this climate, to be this vague is very harmful and hurtful. 

This lady works for the news. She is supposed to know some stuff about some stuff that definitely had happened and still happens on U.S. soil. Ringing any bells? Nobody is born “woke” but comparing Black people to monkeys and apes seems like pretty basic racism. If Housden is feigning innocence, if she is suggesting that she didn’t know any better, than wouldn’t she assume there are other white people who don’t know better too? Wouldn’t she want to educate them on this? Or maybe she doesn’t actually know why what she said was racist. Maybe she doesn’t know why she’s apologizing. Maybe she just wants the conflict to go away rather than addressing it head-on. This is so typical of white fragility. 

Jason Hackett is a poised king.

Hackett accepted her apology. I take no issue because the apology is his to accept, and he knows Housden better than I do. Hackett said he hoped the episode might help educate people.

“It cut deep for me and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community,” he said. “We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other’s backgrounds and the words that hurt, the words that cut deep.”

I don’t know any person of color that hasn’t had to maintain a happy face, that hasn’t had to swallow racist indignities, that hasn’t had to take the higher ground when so deeply insulted, just to keep a job. I hope this isn’t the case for Hackett. I hope he and Housden really are genuine friends. I hope it was an ignorant mistake rather than a wilfully ignorant mistake, I really do. I want to believe the best in white Americans. That’s so hard when I turn on the news. That’s so hard when people like Housden, with little grasp of the country’s history, are the arbiters of the news.

Comparing Black people to monkeys has a long history.

Wulf D. Hund and Charles W. Mills penned an extensive article on the origins and history of this horrible racist stereotype for the Huffington Post. In “Comparing Black People to Monkeys has a Long, Dark Simian History,” the authors note that scientists once categorized Black people as being related to chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans rather than human beings. This was “science” and this was in 1854 — not that long ago.

No more apologies.

You know what I say: the best apology is reparations and restorative justice. I am really sick of white people, whether they mean it or not, apologizing for doing racist things. Apologies do not dismantle anti-Blackness and bigotry in the United States. Apologies do not release migrant children from cages. Apologies do not equate to better opportunities for people of color. Apologies just make the apologizer feel better. 

The best apology a white person can give is actionable change. You’re sorry about racism? So I guess I’ll be seeing you at the next Black Lives Matter protest, right? Some white people do show up. Some white people do care. Those white people typically don’t compare Black people to gorillas. 

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