The news is full of blackface pictures.
There can be no debate about whether or not such images are racist and hurtful. They are.
It was recently brought to my attention that I was involved in publishing such a photo when I was in college.
The 1988-89 yearbook I edited at Arizona State University included a photo of two people at a Halloween party dressed as Mike Tyson and Robin Givens. It is horrible, and of course the photo should not have been published.
I am sorry for the hurt I caused back then and the hurt it will cause today.
The image was discovered as part of a USA TODAY Network review of yearbooks from that time. I was shocked as I had no memory of that photo.
Clearly the 21-year-old me who oversaw the book and that page didn’t understand how offensive the photo was. I wish I had.
Today’s 51-year-old me of course understands and is crushed by this mistake.
I want to apologize publicly. As journalists, we must hold ourselves accountable as we do others, and it is important to call myself out for this poor judgment.
Also, I want to continue to grow from this.
As a journalist and editor, I have long championed diversity and inclusion in our newsroom and in our news coverage. I initiated USA TODAY’s first diversity committee. In Arizona, before I arrived at USA TODAY, our newsroom held frequent meetings with diverse communities, asking them to critique our work and help us do better. They always did.
Throughout my career, I’ve had, and will continue to have, newsroom conversations about how we can further educate ourselves and our readers about race, history and prejudice, as well as the serious issues facing women, the LGBTQ community and all marginalized groups.
And we’ll keep talking about how we are doing in recruiting and retaining journalists of color. We cannot cover America if we do not reflect America.
Accountability. Transparency. Education. Discussion.
That is how I grow.
That is how we grow.