Former WBRE-TV weather girl apologized for racial slur, but that’s the problem

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First Posted: 2/25/2015

When Kristi Capel ended her three-year stint as a weather girl on WBRE-TV in 2011, she told the Times Leader: “My whole goal in this business is to keep working hard and keep moving up.”

Capel, who graduated to an anchor position for FOX 8 in Cleveland, kept her promise to make big things happen, just not how she may have anticipated. Last month, the former Northeastern Pennsylvania television presence went viral for making a racial slur during a live broadcast, putting the almost seemingly purposeful viral moments seen on WNEP-TV on the back burner. Sorry, Snedeker.

On Feb. 25, Capel was talking about Lady Gaga’s “Sounds of Music” tribute at the Academy Awards when she used the offensive — and outdated — term “jigaboo” to describe the singer’s sound. Social media blew up at her moronic word choice and Capel quickly apologized, posting on Twitter: “I deeply regret my insensitive comment. I didn’t know the meaning and would never intentionally use hurtful language. I sincerely apologize.”

What did she think the word “jigaboo” meant? Clearly, she thought she had the meaning down to not only say it, but to repeat it. It’s not like it’s a word that typically rolls off the tongue by accident.

We asked Capel what she thought the word meant via email and Facebook message, to which we recieved no response. Maybe she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “reply” either.

Some people forgave her; for example, her station manager. Capel disappeared from her anchor seat for a week before returning as if nothing happened. Others were not as understanding.

Howard Billson took to the Weekender’s Facebook page to comment on the trending topic, saying: “Please, please don’t use a word if you don’t understand its meaning.” Rich Heiser also posted on Facebook, commenting: “She’s a fuck head. Oh sorry, didn’t know what a fuck head meant.”

Meanwhile, Kelly Reilly commented that, “I think it was an innocent mistake. She’s sincerely apologizing on social media, and life moves on.”

Reilly is right. Capel did apologize. But that doesn’t make her in the right; it’s actually the problem. Not knowing what the word meant is solid proof that America needs to be bitch-slapped with a history lesson.

Think about it. Did you know the meaning of “jigaboo” when this story broke, or did you have to Google the meaning? Many of your parents probably knew it was a derogatory term used toward black people; but many of your friends or younger siblings might not have known. When Scranton High School English teacher Lynn Huggler asked her class of about 30 high school students if they knew the term, only one said they knew the meaning.

In today’s politically correct culture, many schools throughout the United States have banned books that have shaped our history; books such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Autobiography of Malcom X,” and “Gone With the Wind,” that are considered racially insensitive, oppressive and thought to perpetuate racism. The affect according to Huggler: students won’t have a working knowledge of history.

“People need to know how word usage was used over times — if they’re dealt with in the proper context, both socially and intellectually. We have the word ‘niggardly’ in many of our books, which means ‘cheap’ or ‘stingy’. I have very intellectual students who know how to used the term intellectually, and that’s important,” Huggler said. “If we avoid topics and words, we promote antagonism.”

So Capel is sorry for unknowingly making a racial slur. But that’s the problem with America. Are we whitewashing history to spare feelings?