A Black member of the Harlem Globetrotters said two white news anchors threw fruits, including a banana, at him while he was performing basketball tricks on an Alabama news show earlier this year.
Maxwell Pearce spoke about the matter Saturday on social media, a day after WBRC-TV aired a show that featured an interview with Pearce about the January incident on Good Day Alabama. During that same newscast, WBRC News Director Shannon Isbell offered an on-air apology to Pearce.
“In a moment of levity during a segment, two members of my team were tossing fruit as well as a basketball,” Isbell said during the show. “One of them threw a banana without knowing the racial implications of that action.”
The basketball player said that never happened. Instead, he says the news station offered him an interview with Clare Huddleston, the anchor he accuses of throwing the banana at him.
“It would have been opportunity to educate her on why this act was offensive,” he said. Those plans were also abandoned, according to Price.
Pearce went on to have the interview, which aired on Friday, with Isbell.
In a statement to AL.com, Isbell said both parties wanted the interview to be a learning moment. “Implicit bias is real,” the news outlet quotes her as saying. “A lack of cultural awareness exists in many of us. I want to encourage others to look for those blind spots and learn from our mistake.”
During the taping, Pearce said he “explained in detail why this is so offensive” and provided context on “the history of Black people in human zoos.” Both Pearce and Price say the interview that aired omitted parts of the conversation where Pearce spoke about the historical context behind the incident.
“I think this was an unfortunate incident for Max,” Price said. “He never reacted irrationally to what happened, and I think he was always trying to get to a point or a situation where something meaningful and impactful could come from this experience.”
Isbell has also offered a statement apologizing for the incident on behalf of the news outlet.
“An on-air segment promoting a Globetrotters event with Mr. Pearce in January was intended to be lighthearted,” she said. “However, it became something deeply hurtful to our guest as the result of our lack of understanding. We are grateful for the several enlightening, educational conversations we have had with Max over the last two months. I was happy to have him on our show about racial inequality and faith that aired last Friday.”
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