Race Will Always Be Discussed

I’ll be a guest on Charlotte Talks (WFAE 90.7 FM) tomorrow morning, 9-10 a.m. The segment is titled “African-Americans in the Media.” I’m African-American. I’m in the media. So it’s very appropriate. Appropriate…hmmm…that’s an interesting word when it comes to race—and the discussion of it. When you work in the media as I do, it’s something you must always be conscious of.

Last week, we received an anonymous letter in the office from a reader. It was a little different from the typical letters we receive. The reader tore out page 78 from our March issue and mailed it to us. That page was from our travel feature, “A Year of Excellent Traveling.” In it, my fellow associate editor Blake Miller compiled a list of twelve different destinations, one for each month of the year, and sent a writer to each vacation spot to write about his or her experience.


Coincidentally, the page the reader sent in to us was on Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, which is the destination Blake visited. When we received the torn-out page from the reader, it simply contained this note at the top: “I don’t think this phrase represents the diversity of your readership.” And to show what he or she was referring to, the reader underlined this from the article: “So hop on a three-hour direct flight to paradise and prepare to prep your pearly white skin for the South’s inevitably blazing summer sun.”


The reader made a good point. That passage was in the intro of the article and it could come across as if it is saying that this destination is for white people. Now I’m sure no one actually believes that’s what we, as in Charlotte magazine, were saying. But I understand how it can be misinterpreted or seem intentional. In actuality, it was simply a case of the writer, who has “pearly white skin,” describing her experience, which is what each article in the feature did. And we, the editors at the magazine, failed to realize it during editing.


I’m African-American and I didn’t catch it. Is it my fault? No. Is it anybody’s fault? No. But those of us in the media have a certain responsibility. People believe what they read, hear, and see when they trust their news source. We hope that our readers trust us. And trust me; the line in the story was not an intentional assertion about race.


This is the kind of thing I’ll be discussing on Charlotte Talks tomorrow. Coincidentally, we received that letter a day after I was asked to be on the radio show. I guess it shows that race is always an issue. But it doesn’t have to be a bad one.


Tune in if you can, 9-10 a.m., on 90.7 FM. You can also listen online at www.wfae.org. You can hear it live during the show, or later on the podcast. You’ll see both links on the site.


Categories: The Buzz, Trade & Tryon, Trade & Tryon > Media