A former prominent African-American TV anchor once told me you haven’t really “made it” until you get a racist letter from a viewer in the mail.
After 13 years on Pittsburgh TV, I finally “made it”.
It wasn’t much. Just a postcard from some viewer who wasn’t pleased that I sit next to a beautiful, blond-haired white woman. Hey, if it’s jealousy, I can understand that. Who wouldn’t want to be next to Kelly Frey for two hours? It wasn’t threatening and it wasn’t a long note. While the person had great penmanship, they could have at least spelled my last name right. Why is it that racists are horrible spellers. Also, if you are going to throw in the letters “KKK” in a hate message, please use official company stationery and don’t just scribble in the letters. It tends to have more credibility that way.
I don’t mean to be flippant. I know this is not funny, but I think humor allows me to deal with something that is quite unexpected. I guess I think in this day in age we have gotten past this racist stuff. Then again, look at the Michael Vick incident and it’s clear race permeates everything we do and say in this country.
Am I angry? No. Am I worried? No. I guess I’m a bit put off because the coward did not bother put his or her name ( I’m not going to be sexist here ) on the note. Frankly, I have no problem with people having racist feelings as long as they are up front about them. It’s how they feel and that is their business. I used to work in the South and while some southerners have been seen as racists over the course of history, at least they are upfront about their feelings. You can hate me all you want – just take responsibility.
I thought I would share this with you because I always feel when I speak to you in this format, it’s a two-way conversation. I also feel that by sharing this story, you understand that no one is immune from this sort of garbage and we must recognize it still exists. I also feel that shining a light on racism often makes the offenders crawl back into their holes – or where ever they came from.
I’m sure as I continue to spend more time on television and move into more high-profile roles in my career, I will continue to encounter those who would judge me based on appearance. To them, I say you are in the minority and that I will continue to live my life the way that I always have – without regards to skin color. One more message for those author of that note – if he or she reads this: Next time, at least spell my name right. It’s on the screen for crying out loud.