The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Bell herself removed the post and apologized for what she wrote to those who were offended.
“I have removed a post that I initially placed here on Monday,” she wrote late Wednesday (Mar. 23) on her official WTAE Wendy Bell Facebook page. “I sincerely apologize for that post about the Wilkinsburg mass shooting and the restaurant employee whom my husband and I encountered. I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist. I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.”
Bell’s apology came after she encountered a noticeable level of criticism and resulted in “Demand WTAE Hold Wendy Bell Accountable,” a campaign created in response to the perceived racially insensitive comments from Bell.
The comments in question came after the mass shootings, which occurred on March 9. Weighing in on the incident, Bell posted, “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 teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs.”
At this time, no arrests in the case have been announced by police.
In her Facebook post, Bell highlighted an employee she saw at a restaurant her family were at during a recent outing. Describing the employee, Bell stated that the worker was a “young, African American teen” working hard, stacking glasses, picking up scraps from the floor. He worked with “a rhythm and a step that gushed positivity. He moved like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s going to Make it.”
After calling the manager over to compliment the young man and seeing how happy he was, Bell wrote “I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special.”
Upon seeing Bell’s comments, Rachael Webster, a white schoolteacher, and some friends said how stunned they were over what they call an insensitive, “White Privilege” view from a very public figure, the Post-Gazette reports, noting that the group called WTAE to complain about Bell. Unsatisfied with the station’s response, Webster ended up creating her own Facebook page: “Demand WTAE Hold Wendy Bell Accountable.”
Alongside a meme of actress Sandra Bullock from the 2009 movie “The Blind Side” that sits on the left rail of the Facebook page, is the following comment:
“Wendy posted a racist post as a representative of WTAE. The station remains silent. We will not.”
As word got around about Bell’s controversial post, the conversation expanded by mid-afternoon Wednesday to those on reddit and verysmartbrothas.com., who expressed their outrage along with various degrees of mockery, saying Bell’s views on race were inappropriate regarding her post on the Wilkinsburg shootings.
“She blanket-ly paints African American men in such a degrading way when she was talking about the perpetrators,” Ms. Webster said. “Unless I’ve missed a major news story, they are yet to be identified or given a description. She describes them as ‘black’ but when she is talking about the [restaurant] boy, she uses ‘African American.’ It’s subtle racism, but it’s there.”
Although she later edited her Facebook post, including removing “multiple siblings from multiple fathers….,” Bell still encountered negative feedback.
Among the critics was Casey James Cunniff, who wrote, “I don’t know how to unpack this much nuanced racism in one sitting.”
“I’m sorry you read it that way,” Bell replied. “That is not the case. What I wrote is realism, not racism.”
For Webster, the “it’s realism” comment particularly troubling.
“I found it particularly striking as to her own blindness to her racism,” Webster told the Post-Gazette. “I think she probably does have good intentions but there is such systemic and problematic racism in our society…. I think she is unwilling to use it to self-examine by looking at the comments she is getting from both African American and white people.”
For more on Bell and her controversial Facebook post, click here.