Harlem Globetrotter discusses 'racial undertones' of 'offensive' visit to WBRC's Good Day Alabama
Birmingham, Ala. – Maxwell Pearce, an entrepreneur and member of the Harlem Globetrotters, posted a four-minute video on Saturday evening about an offensive encounter while on the set of WBRC’s Good Day Alabama show.
During the televised segment, anchor Clare Huddleston and lead weather forecaster Mickey Ferguson threw two tangerines and a banana at Pearce while he was showing them basketball tricks. Anchor Mike Dubberly is also shown standing next to Pearce and laughing at the fruit-throwing. While the station maintains the action was intended as a joke, it made an impact on Pearce.
“This carries deep racial undertones that date back to the early 1900s when black people were held in display in human zoos”, said Pearce. “Throwing a banana at a black man and passing it off as entertainment displays an unacceptable lack of awareness, and quite frankly I’m having a very difficult time understanding how someone could work in the media field and not know this is offensive.”
Pearce explained how he conducted a second interview with the station to discuss why the first segment was offensive. However, a large portion of the historical information he talked about was cut from the on-air interview. In his video, Pearce emphasized the story of Ota Banga, a Belgian Congo pygmy who was displayed in the Bronx Zoo's monkey cage in 1906.
“This is another example of how history has been carefully presented to favor and safe face of the oppressor,” said Pearce.
Since the incident, Shannon Isbell, WRBC’s news director, has talked with Pearce and issued an apology on behalf of the station.
“WRBC Fox6 would like to take this opportunity to again extend a heartfelt and sincere apology to Globetrotter Max Pearce”, read a statement sent to AL.com. “An on-air segment promoting a Globetrotters event with Mr. Pearce months ago was intended to be lighthearted. However, it became something deeply hurtful to our guest as the result of our lack of understanding. We are grateful for the several enlightening, educational conversations we have had with Max over the last two months.”