Wendy Bell, a news anchor in Pittsburgh, was fired after making seemingly racial comments on her professional Facebook page following the mass shooting at a backyard barbecue in a predominately black neighborhood. As a result of the heinous crime, six people lost their lives (one of whom was pregnant) and four others were injured.
So what exactly did Bell say that was severe enough to get her fired?
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday, they are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
She didn’t stop there. She continued her post by recounting a story of an African American bus boy who was working at a restaurant Bell and her family were visiting. Bell told the boy’s manager what a great worker he was. When the manager relayed the message to the boy, Bell recounts his reaction.
“It will be some time before I forget the smile that beamed across that young worker’s face - or the look in his eyes as we caught each other’s gaze. I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special.”
When Bell made the comment on her Facebook page, police had not yet released the names or descriptions of the suspect nor had there been any arrests. Two days after she made the post, Bell deleted it. Seven days later, she was fired by the TV station.
Critics claimed that Bell’s words were racist and demeaning. They also claimed that Bell had a “white savior complex”.
What is a White Savior Complex?
Usually heard when referring to film analysis, a “white savior” is a white character who rescues people of color from an unfortunate or dangerous situation. Portrayed in the same light as a messiah, a white savior has a “holier than thou” attitude.
Wendy Bell feels as though her being fired was racial discrimination. She claims that if an African-American journalist had made a similar comment, her employer would not have fired her. Bell is suing her employer for violating the Civil Rights Act. In addition to wanting her job back, Bell wants backpay for lost wages and attorney fees.
Prior to being fired, Bell had been with the station nearly 20 years. In addition, she had won more than 20 Emmy awards for her “broadcast excellence.” Bell claims that she was encouraged by the station to keep engaging with her audience via her Facebook page.
In the meantime, Bell is looking for other work in the same field but is having a hard time due to a non-compete clause in her contract. The clause doesn’t end until the end of March, 2017.
Is Bell’s firing reverse race discrimination?
*image by Flickr
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