Miami Herald Editor Responds To Racist Email Miami Herald Executive Editor Monica Richardson published her response to a racist email she received, launching a conversation not only with the sender but with Miami as a whole.

The Executive Editor At The 'Miami Herald' Responded Publicly To A Racist Email

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Journalists are no strangers to receiving negative feedback on their stories. Recently, the Miami Herald's executive editor, Monica Richardson, who is the first Black journalist to hold that position in the paper's 117-year history, says she received a racist email.

MONICA RICHARDSON: It was really brutal because of the language and the tone and, really, the hatred that it portrayed and how this resonates with different communities at different moments.

MCCAMMON: In that email, the sender expressed anger over the Miami Herald's coverage of recent Cuban American demonstrations, which shut down a Miami highway. It noted that no one had been arrested despite a new anti-riot law. In a message permeated with racist commentary, the sender referred to Richardson with a misogynistic slur and used the phrase your people. Richardson wrote an open letter in response. In it, she writes, like other moments of coming face to face with racism, it will sit with me for life. A Martinez spoke with Richardson about why she felt compelled to respond.

RICHARDSON: Now, these protests are - they're about something that we all care about. They're about fairness. And so that was not the question that I was trying to raise. It was really about people, how they handle being under pressure and that tension on issues of race. And so this one was particularly, as I said - the word I used - all I could think of was brutal. And so I decided to respond.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

And, Monica - and, you know, there's been a discussion in the last few years about how much of someone's humanity can go into their job when they are journalists. And it sounds like, in this case, your humanity came out when you read that email.

RICHARDSON: It did. In fact, I wrote two versions of the column. And the first version was very polite. And I came back to it and just wrote it strictly from the heart. Overwhelmingly, the response that I got - the positive response that I got was from the Cuban community. So the - it resonated not just with me as an African American woman, but it resonated with the Cuban community as well.

MARTÍNEZ: You could have included the sender's name in your response.

RICHARDSON: Right.

MARTÍNEZ: Why did you decide not to?

RICHARDSON: We had some discussion about that and just decided that, as disrespectful as the note was, out of respect for that reader that I would not - this was not about attacking that person personally. This was about addressing the message that the reader had. It was the topic I wanted to expose, not the person.

MARTÍNEZ: I mean, you could have, you know, read that email and just kind of filed it away as, OK, that's just one of the more extreme bad apples...

RICHARDSON: Yes. Right.

MARTÍNEZ: ...In a bad apple bunch...

RICHARDSON: Right.

MARTÍNEZ: ...But you felt a responsibility not to do that?

RICHARDSON: No longer do I feel like we should sweep things under the rug and say, it's OK. When I first - I've only been here in Florida in this role since January. And it's happened a couple of times where I've gotten something and I thought, OK, it's, like, a completely racist email, but it's calling me out as a racist. And people will say, oh, that's Florida. Get used to it. And I had a moment after reading that of thinking, that doesn't have to be Florida. It doesn't have to be something we get used to.

MARTÍNEZ: And I can't help and think, though, Monica, that all of this, this whole thing, might pit Black and brown people against each other.

RICHARDSON: Oh, yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: How has that played out?

RICHARDSON: Yeah. That's interesting because in some of the responses that weren't as positive, I felt that. I felt that, like, oh, it's Black people versus other people of color. And I think that exists out there. I heard from some African Americans who think that that community is wrong in the way that they're expressing themselves. Or it's unfair that the anti-riot law seemed to not apply to this group. But it applied to others directly after the George Floyd killing. So that sentiment is there. And I think that the racial reckoning that we've experienced over the last year and a half, two years, in America, it's only going to continue. And what I hope is that we're able to have those kind of conversations respectfully. So I was very clear to end the column on a call to action. If there's a law that needs to be created, say something about it. If there's a law that's not fair, say something about it. If there's a conversation you need to have at your kitchen tables, do it.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News just named Black women as their top news leaders. Yeah.

RICHARDSON: Yes. Yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: How does having a Black woman in a role such as yours affect the kind of journalism that an outlet produces?

RICHARDSON: I consider it an ultimate challenge. It is not only just a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. It's not something I forget, right? I bring my whole self to the job. And that means that people can see themselves, right? I want people to see them themselves in our products, in our newspaper, on our digital products. And I think that we have to use it as a rich opportunity to build up and not tear down.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Monica Richardson, executive editor of the Miami Herald, the Nuevo Herald and the Bradenton Herald. Monica, thank you very much.

RICHARDSON: Thank you so much.

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