WLEX 18 had no choice ... they had to part with Cruse

Jeff Neal

I don't know Lee Cruse, so I don't know what's in his heart.

But back on May 9, the WLEX-TV personality made, at best, a horrific blunder -- and at worst, an overtly racist comment that ultimately ended his television career in Lexington.

The topic was BBC disc jockey Danny Baker's tweet about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby, Archie, showing a picture a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee. BBC immediately fired Baker for the overtly racist tweet.

And, yes, comparing a child of color to a primate is indeed racist.

Why is this so offensive to blacks?

The best explanation I've read comes from freelance journalist and social media consultant Whitney Alese, made just after Roseanne Barr's tweet saying former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett is "a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes." Barr, you might recall, was immediately fired from her own sitcom.

"This view of Black people as animals, essentially, is more than just a mean name to call someone," Alese wrote. "It has had violent, history altering, culture destroying effects upon people of the Africa diaspora, effects still viewed today as per the latest Rosanne tweet (that has, effectively, ended her show, and hopefully her career).

"Where does all of this come from? While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when Africans and those descended from them were labeled as subhuman, ie apes and monkeys, there are many comparisons so well embedded within history, culture and even in areas of science, they can be blamed on some of the most casual observations (that we would now not even consider to be good, quality, or effective science) such as:

• The wide variety of great apes in Africa (because if there are so many apes on a continent, then the people living there must be close to them, right? Cue eye roll);

• The "aesthetic distance" between White and Black people. Black people just look different from White people, and these differences where harped upon as a form, from the White perspective, of physical "otherness". This otherness was viewed not just as diversity as one would see in many other species of the same race in different climates, but as a deviant in the worst way;

• The higher esteem generally given to European civilizations as opposed to against African civilizations (off the top of your head: how many countries can you name in Europe as opposed to African ones?)

• And above all the global trauma of hundreds of years of slavery in modernity, which embedded into the global consciousness those of Black skin as perpetual subhumans."

So you see, the comparison of primates to blacks has a dark, sinister history.

Now back to Cruse.

When Baker's tweet and ultimate dismissal from BBC was brought up on the WLEX-TV talk show he co-hosted with Haley Harmon, Cruse laughed and said, "this is my new favorite disc jockey." He went on to say "the tweet doesn't have to be racist."

But as Alese explained, from a black person's perspective, it most definitely is racist.

When WLEX was bombarded by outrage, Cruse did apologize. He called himself "a full blown moron idiot." I have to agree.

He claims he went on the air and commented on the tweet without knowing of its racist origins.

Some people who know Cruse claim that he's never shown any racial insensitivity before. If this is the case, it's a shame his long career at WLEX ended on such a terrible note.

Others have said, understandably, "how could he not know?"

Either way, whether Cruse misspoke or he knowingly defended a racist tweet, WLEX parted ways with him.

Really, what else could they do?

JEFF NEAL is the Editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Reach him at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.