In the long list of things to never say to a black person, right before, “No, you can’t have more napkins” you’ll find comparing us to a primate right up there.
Yet despite this longstanding edict, KOCO anchor Alex Housden decided to risk life and limb by uttering the following:
During a segment about a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo, Housden, a white woman, was engaged in a light-hearted exchange with her black co-anchor, Jason Hackett, when shit went left.
“This is Fin. [...] He’s a resident at the Oklahoma City Zoo and this week the zoo’s ape caretaker took over their Instagram and we are all loving that they did,” Housden told the audience at home. “Now as you can see, Fin was fascinated by the camera.”
“Definitely ready for his close up,” Hackett replied, as Fin stared into the camera.
“He kinda looks like you,” Housden joked. What followed was Hackett’s laughter.
The kind of laughter that black folks in white spaces know all too well. The kind of laughter that dissuades our rage and prevents us from going to jail. The kind of laughter that doubles as a prayer to the Lord for strength and forgiveness because you still have kids to feed. The kind of laughter that Housden didn’t deserve, but received anyway because America wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thankfully, viewers were outraged on Hackett’s behalf, forcing Housden to address the matter on air the following day:
“I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, that was inappropriate, and I hurt people,” the forlorn alabastress tearfully told Hackett. “I hurt people. I want you to know I understand how much I hurt you out there and how much I hurt you. I’m just humiliated.”
“The lesson here is that words matter,” he replied as he accepted her apology. “We have to understand the stereotypes, we have to understand each other’s backgrounds and the words that hurt, the words that cut deep.”
And if you guessed she was allowed to keep her job, you’d be correct. And of course, Twitter has plenty of opinions on the matter.
KOCO has yet to comment on the situation publicly.