A news anchor and meteorologist in Arkansas celebrated the cooling weather with a “Return to the ’70s” themed segment, and they looked absolutely silly.
Though disco decor and bell-bottoms would have made for an easily discernible allusion to the era, afro wigs were instead opted for by the KATV news anchor and meteorologist, the New York Post reports.
After catching wind of the Sept. 16 broadcast, Dr. Anika Whitfield, an activist, filed a complaint. Following no response from the news station, she escalated her feedback to John Seabers, vice president of KATV’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group.
This is beyond disappointing @KATV. I talked to local journalists and members of the Black community traumatized by talent’s decision to wear afros on air. I am more concerned by an apparent culture that gives air to demeaning acts. This cannot continue. @nabj
— Ken Lemon (@kennabjvpbcast) September 19, 2021
Seabers, Whitfield, Black Sinclair regional news director Blaise Labbe and several others hopped on a Zoom meeting to unpack the incident and exchange grievances, according to The Arkansas Times.
In the meeting, Seabers called the incident both “juvenile” and “abhorrent.” He also profusely apologized for the incident.
In a formal apology, he committed to doing better going forward.
“We apologize to all viewers who were rightfully offended by the segment, and we promise to enact and enforce new measures to prevent future incidents from occurring,” Seabers said.
To make matters more problematic, the afro wigs followed a “mammy doll” being used to greet a new Black worker at the station. Additionally, staffers had just undergone over a month of racial bias training.
The veteran anchors have been suspended indefinitely and their supervisor was terminated.