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KSHB reporter says she was ‘suspended’ for sharing Guardian story on white privilege

Lisa Benson Cooper
Lisa Benson Cooper Facebook

A former reporter who was already suing KSHB-TV for racial discrimination contends she was fired for posting an article on her Facebook page about white privilege.

While Lisa Benson Cooper’s case is pending in federal court, a Twitter thread is drawing attention to a May 7 article in The Guardian that argues that white women play the role of victim whenever women of color assert themselves. The article is titled “How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour.”

“On May 9th, Lisa shared this piece I wrote for The Guardian, about a common but only recently voiced phenomenon where WoC who raise issues about race & their mistreatment esp. at work are punished by white women who claim the WoC is ‘attacking’ them,” Ruby Hamad tweeted Monday.

Hamad said two white female colleagues at the Kansas City television news station saw the article on Benson’s Facebook page and contacted human resources. She said Benson was then suspended for making “broad, unfair characterizations of white women as a group based on their race and gender.”

Benson posted on June 13 that she was no longer a reporter for 41 Action News. She followed on June 19 by posting that she did not quit her job but was suspended for posting the Guardian piece.

“I want you to know, I did not quit my job 41 Action News — KSHB-TV,” she wrote. “I was suspended for sharing a meme & a Guardian US article on my personal FB page and subsequently told I ‘shall not report to work’ for the duration of my contract.”

KSHB, a Scripps company, has denied Benson’s allegations of discrimination.

“We can confirm that, in line with its contractural rights, KSHB did not renew Lisa Benson’s contract,” News Director Carrie Hofmann said. “We cannot comment on pending litigation. We stand by our commitment to diversity and inclusion in our workplace.”

In Benson’s suit, which was moved to federal court from Jackson County Circuit Court, she alleges that her race was “constantly used” in deciding where or what topics she would be reporting. She said she was consistently assigned to urban core stories and was once sent alone to interview a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

KSHB sports reporter Demetrice “Dee” Jackson also sued the station this year for race discrimination, contending he was twice passed over for sports director after management led him to believe he would get that job.

Several people reacted to Hamad’s tweets about Benson.

“Not only women who have brown or black skin experience this. I am Chinese and have experienced this at my workplace too,” one woman tweeted.

“The absolute irony displayed in these two white women’s reaction to your article is brain-meltingly ridiculous,” another woman wrote.

Hamad later tweeted: “My article went viral with most page views & shares occurring in the US. We can also make Lisa’s story go viral to ensure she is adequately compensated for this blatant targeting & discrimination. All she did was share my article to her personal page. WoC: we are strong together.”

Neither Hamad nor Benson responded to messages from The Star.

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