Racial tensions have always been high and heavy in America, but with the rise of social media, more has become exposed, and in real-time. Privilege and the lack of proper education in a great number of white people, as it pertains to the history and sensitivity of America’s treatment to Black and Brown people, play a huge factor along with other major issues.
Such display was witnessed in a local Oklahoma news broadcast where Alex Housden, a white anchorwoman on KOCO-Live, compared her Black co-anchor, Jason Hackett, to a gorilla. The news anchors were covering a segment on the aforementioned gorilla which was housed at the Oklahoma City Zoo. A clip went viral of the segment due to the ending where Housden is heard saying “it kind of looks like you!” to Hackett in reference to the gorilla.
The insensitive racist remarks spawned fiery backlash to the news anchor as well as the news station, with calls from social media and viewers for her to apologize and to be reprimanded for her comment. Housden then issued a tearful apology on-air to Hackett while sitting next to him, recognizing the hurtful and damaging aspects of her words and what they can and did cause.
“I’m here this morning because I want to apologize, not only to my co-anchor Jason but to an entire community,” she said through tears, as she begins touching Hackett’s arm. “I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate… it was inappropriate, and I hurt people. And I want you to know, I understand how much I’ve hurt you out there, and how much I’ve hurt you [Jason].”
She continued to tell him that she loved him and called him “one of my best friends for the past year and a half” adding, “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.”
Hackett in turn accepted her apology on-air, affirming her “best friend” remark, and as well saying that he loved her. He then switches gears to admit that this was a “teachable moment”, saying “What she said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me, and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community.”
He added, “We’re becoming a more diverse country, and there’s no excuse. We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other’s backgrounds and the words that hurt, the words that cut deep. We have to find a way to replace those words with love and words of affirmation as well.”
Hackett continued, saying that the lesson was that words matter. “We have to understand the stereotypes, we have to understand each other’s backgrounds and the words that hurt, the words that cut deep.”
Housden also found a surprising ally in rapper T.I., who came on social media seemingly in her defense, while also putting Hackett down in the process. “Well… accept her apology & I believe she was being sincere… both times,” he wrote in BallerAlert‘s comment section on Instagram. He then went on to say that Hackett indeed looked like the gorilla along with a shrugging and laughing emoji.
T.I.’s comments were met with shock and many questioned it, as he’s usually one who’s vocal on issues concerning race and the mistreatment of African-Americans. At the time, he had been adamant on a three-month boycott on Gucci for their racist and tone-deaf shirt that featured a red-lipped monkey.
Roland Martin commented on the controversial video with his own take admitting he does not accept the news anchor apology. Martin stated, “The whole morning show would have stopped … We would have had a come to Jesus moment right there.”