Ms. Amy D. Barnett
820 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
March 28, 2014
Dear Ms. Barnett:
Over the years, the writers and editors at EBONY have done great work in promoting civil rights and diligently covering issues of race and politics in America. That’s why I was shocked to learn that one of your senior editors, Jamilah Lemieux, repeatedly attacked black conservatives on Twitter yesterday for their political views.
When one of the Republican National Committee’s staff members challenged her assumptions and attempted to engage in a dialogue, she dismissively referred to him as “a white dude.” That staffer, our Deputy Press Secretary Raffi Williams, is black. She went on to deride those who were criticizing her as “a house full of roaches.”
Attacking someone for his or her race, heritage or political views is the very thing EBONY has worked to discourage, and actions like those of Ms. Lemieux are far below the basic standards of journalism. She did not even attempt to show journalistic objectivity. And I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it’s unacceptable to refer to those who disagree with you as “roaches.”
Raffi deserves an apology from Ms. Lemieux and from EBONY—not just for making assumptions about his race but more importantly for dismissing black Republicans and the validity of their opinions in public discourse.
In their Twitter exchange, Ms. Lemieux said she had “no interest” in a conversation about encouraging diversity of thought. I’m hopeful, however, that she does not speak for the entire magazine and that we can use this unfortunate episode as a catalyst for greater engagement and understanding between the Republican Party and the black community.