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Don’t question my credibility because I’m black

Barbara Ciara | 9/2/2008, 9:21 a.m.

It was a tough question, and a black reporter asked it. I guess Pitts didn’t get the memo.

Is it fair? Did female reporters have to pass a litmus test before they were assigned to cover New York Sen. Hillary Clinton? Perhaps we should question the plethora of white guys covering McCain and ask them if they can cover a white candidate without displaying bias. After all, they must love the guy since he’s the same shade and gender, right?

Is it necessary? I asked my colleague Pat McReynolds his thoughts. After a thoughtful pause, he said, “We all have biases. No one could truthfully say otherwise. But as in any profession, if you are good at what you do and take your job seriously, you check your biases at the door, no matter whether you are black or white.”

I’m annoyed that skin color has been injected into the presidential race. It detracts from the issues that matter to us all. And what matters most to journalists is our credibility. When you question that, be prepared for a 12-round heavyweight verbal fight. Don’t get me wrong — journalists are not above biases or answering tough questions. But keep it above the belt.

McReynolds summed up my feelings with his parting comment: “To me, saying all African American journalists think alike is just as insulting, if not more so, than saying they all look alike!”

Is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary?

Barbara Ciara is the president of the National Association of Black Journalists.