Editor’s note: On Tuesday, KOIN 6 News anchor Ken Boddie received a racist hate letter. Boddie tweeted a photo of the letter out to respond to the hateful message it contained. As a result, the tweet linked to in this story contains graphic and extremely racist language. We at KOIN 6 News support Ken Boddie to the fullest measure.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s rare to get actual mail these days.
And, when I got a letter filled with hate this week, I debated whether to share it. I decided to do so because it is an unfortunate sign of the times. (Warning: The original tweet, linked here, contains graphic and extremely racist language.)
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten racist hate mail before. I brushed them off because it never rose to the level of physical threat (that I knew of), or affected my mission to report the news as fairly as possible. I chalked it up as a hazard of being an African-American reporter in a mostly white city.
I decided to post this time because it’s important for people to see that racism is real, and one’s status makes no difference to people who are determined to view race as an issue. I never choose to play the race card. But, the race card is part of the hand that I was dealt.
I have always sought to observe the standards of excellence that I believe are required to achieve the “American Dream.” I studied hard in school. I became a sought-after athlete. I graduated from an Ivy League university. I paid my dues while building my career. I didn’t take shortcuts. I approach my work with a sense of professionalism, and fairness.
The fact that one person who has an issue with my race can insult me on that basis alone is hurtful. It’s not hurtful because it affects the trajectory of my life or my career. It’s hurtful because it leads to a realization that, for some people, your race is your defining characteristic. Not your character. Not your accomplishments. Not your humanity.
I truly believe that if I were able to sit down with whoever sent this to me, they would see that I’m a person worth knowing. Unfortunately, that will likely never happen. The police are looking into this, and I’ll leave it to them to determine whether this is a real threat, or just partisan, racist bluster.
I’ll waste no energy thinking about how this person’s mind works. I take no glee in reporting the state of this nation, no matter who wins an election. I just try to report the facts as best I know them. History will make its determinations.
What I do know is that I love this community, and the amount of support shown to me, once I posted this, is heartwarming.
I just feel that it’s important that people know the challenges that African-Americans face in this country, by virtue of only being who we are, or more accurately, what we are.
I have no idea whether anything more will come of this. If I ever write a book, this will be part of it.
I am not interested in more notoriety or “going viral.” However, in this case, you need to know that things like this happen, and that real people are affected by this level of hateful absurdity.
If you are mentally ill, please get the help you need. If you are just hate-filled, I pray for your soul.
My job is to continue to do what I do, as long as I can contribute and as long as Portland wants me to.
Below is a note sent to all staff members at KOIN 6 News from our station’s general manager and vice president, Tom Keeler:
As many of you know by now, on Tuesday of this week, our beloved morning anchor and team member, Ken Boddie, received a repugnant and hateful anonymous letter in the mail that is nothing short of abhorrent and disgusting. I have spoken to Ken personally about the letter and I have conveyed to him how valued he is as an employee, journalist, team and family member to us all here at KOIN and Nexstar. It is important that each of you hear that message, too. I also want to categorically denounce the language that was directed at Ken and offer him our full support and comfort as he deals with something that has no place in our society. I want to convey unequivocally that here at KOIN and at Nexstar, there is a zero-tolerance policy regarding this type of language and behavior. Moreover, we must do everything in our power to foster an inclusive environment where everyone is welcomed and respected as an equal partner within our organization and community. Please join me in our ongoing commitment to treat everyone with the highest level of respect and decency at all times.