The Executive Editor At The 'Miami Herald' Responded Publicly To A Racist Email
Updated July 26, 2021 at 3:24 PM ET
Miami Herald Executive Editor Monica Richardson could have discarded a racist email she received from a reader without a second thought. It was filled with offensive commentary, ended by calling her a misogynistic slur and could have been discounted as one of many unpleasant emails journalists are sent every day.
But not only did the paper's first Black executive editor read the email without hitting "delete" — she published her response in the paper.
The sender had expressed anger the day after a Miami Herald editorial had questioned why Florida governor Ron DeSantis' anti-riot law did not appear to apply to a Cuban American demonstration that blocked the Palmetto Expressway for several hours. While doing so, the sender used several derogatory terms and phrases targeted at Richardson.
Both in her response and on NPR's Morning Edition, Richardson described the email as "brutal."
In her public response, she wrote, "Like other moments of coming face to face with racism, it will sit with me for life."
Richardson told Morning Edition host A Martínez she'd originally written two versions of the column, one that took care to be "very polite" and one that was written "from the heart." The final version did not include the sender's name. Instead, it opened a conversation with Miami as a whole.
"This was not about attacking that person personally, this was about addressing the message that the reader had," she told Morning Edition. "It was the topic I wanted to expose, not the person."
In the response, Richardson called on Miami to engage civilly when frustrated by current events.
"Miami, who are we in times of challenge? Who are we right now? How are you using your voice?" she wrote.
Ultimately, Richardson said she refused to meet the sender's words with silence.
"No longer do I feel like we should sweep things under the rug and say 'it's OK.' 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've thought 'OK, it's a completely racist email but it's calling me out as a racist," she said. "People will say, "Oh, that's Florida, get used to it.' And I had a moment after reading that and thinking, 'That doesn't have to be Florida. It doesn't have to be something we get used to.'"
Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR's News Desk.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.