High-profile white editors condemned post seeking Black creators

Ri-Karlo Handy, a film industry professional, unintentionally sparked a viral online discussion about discrimination in the film editing business when he posted in a private Facebook group asking for the contact information of Black film editors looking for work. Several white editors in the group, outraged by what they viewed as racial discrimination, condemned the post and demanded it be taken down. Nicole French, an actor and attorney, was discouraged by the comments — so she took screenshots of posts from some of the high-profile group members and shared them on Twitter.Her tweet thread calling out the privilege among white men in the editing business has since gone viral, garnering attention from industry newcomers and celebrities alike. Ultimately, both French and Handy are encouraged by the markedly different response the post received on Twitter and they look forward to seeing the industry’s progress. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ri-Karlo Handy, a film industry professional of 20 years and the CEO of Sunwise Media, was looking to compile a list of Black Union film editors. “When folks are looking to hire more people of color, they ask around because it’s a recommendation-based business,” Handy told Insider. “I wanted to give a comprehensive list. If we don’t help each other, we might not get that opportunity anywhere else.”On Tuesday afternoon, Handy posted in the I NEED AN EDITOR! Facebook group, asking for Black editors affiliated with the Editors Guild to direct message him their contact information.What began as a simple social media post, however, quickly evolved into an online discussion that ultimately went viral.

Handy’s post was initially met with backlash from several members of the private Facebook group — specifically, several white male editors — who felt the posting encouraged hiring discrimination. Some demanded that the group’s admins removed the post and others condemned what they believed to be an instance of “reverse racism.”Actor and attorney Nicole French was directed to the post by a friend in the Facebook group. Seeing the comments, she told Insider, left her feeling saddened and discouraged. “I just decided enough was enough and I needed to collect the screenshots and put it all together,” she told Insider.After verifying each commenter’s identity on Facebook and via IMDB profiles, French shared screenshots of the men’s comments in a now-viral tweet thread. The reaction to the call for Black editors, French tweeted, was “a slew of white editors” condemning the post and demanding its removal, accusing the Handy of breaking the law and “fanning ‘anti-white racism.” Ultimately, she wrote, the comments “insulted Black editors and white editors speaking up for diversity.”

—Nicole French (@Nicole_saysLove) June 16, 2020 —Nicole French (@Nicole_saysLove) June 16, 2020French went on to highlight comments from several industry professionals condemning Handy’s post. One commenter was Nathan Lee Bush — an editor, French revealed, who had done prior editing work for high-profile companies like Nike and Panera Bread. “White people, it’s time to speak up vehemently against the anti-white racism so proudly displayed here and in the culture, before it’s too late,” one of Bush’s screen-captured comments read. “This is about more than your career, or the next agency gig. This is about the country you and your kids will live in.”—Nicole French (@Nicole_saysLove) June 16, 2020French posted screenshots of several more comments from Bush, including one where he suggested that he might share a job posting specifying “white editors only.” She added that Bush deleted some of his “most egregious” posts.

In response, some brands appear to be cutting ties with Bush. “The views expressed by this individual are unacceptable, and we will no longer be using their services,” a spokesperson for Panera Bread said in a statement to Insider. The company also issued a statement on Twitter in response to French’s tweet. —Panera Bread (@panerabread) June 17, 2020Bush told Insider that he “lost his cool” after reading Handy’s post in the Facebook group, which he viewed as an example of “an overwhelming number of posts that exclude whites specifically.” 

“If you report these discriminatory posts to administrators, they do nothing. If you report them to Facebook, they do nothing,” he said in an email. “I decided to speak up for the silent majority, which quickly learns from experiences like mine what happens if you object to being discriminated against: you get shouted down or worse, your livelihood destroyed.”Bush added that he believes “cancel culture” has become entrenched in the entertainment industry, and he plans to leave the editing profession as a result. “I’ve learned my lesson and am likely going to leave the industry because of it. Working in the media means creating left-wing propaganda for a living, and this experience proves that the industry is an intolerant, hermetically-sealed echo chamber,” he said. Despite Bush’s feelings, the 2019 UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report found that minorities remain underrepresented in every entertainment industry studied.

French also posted screenshots from 11 other industry professionals.Another commenter French spotlighted was Jared Tarlow, an editor who appears to have worked on ABC shows like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.Tarlow called the post’s prioritization of Black editors “illegal.” French said it showed his lack of understanding about privilege.  —Nicole French (@Nicole_saysLove) June 16, 2020ABC and Jared Tarlow did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. The aggressive and intimidating comments, French says, are only a small fraction of what marginalized creatives experience when searching out opportunities. “The racism, trolling, agitation, & intimidation from privileged white editors towards Black editors in these posts (a thread)…are just a taste of what it’s like when wanting equal opportunity is a threat,” she wrote in a follow-up tweet, tagging several news outlets. 

—Nicole French (@Nicole_saysLove) June 16, 2020In less than 24 hours, the post has been re-shared over 40,000 times and sparked a larger discussion about discrimination in the industry.”Thank you for posting all this. I am sick to my stomach looking through all of this,” one commenter wrote. “Sad that many of these companies hiring these racists will pander saying ‘we’re not racist’ or ‘we’re not responsible for people we work with.’ Brands need to stop supporting racists!””I’ve been an Editor for more than 30 years and I never saw a Black Editor,” another commenter said.”It’s time to change that. Thank you Nicole.”Filmmaker and director Ava DuVernay retweeted the thread, writing, “Everyone has a right to their opinion. And we — Black producers with hiring power — have the right to not hire those who diminish us. So, to the white men in this thread… if you don’t get that job you were up for, kindly remember… bias can go both ways. This is 2020 speaking.”Pointing out instances of discrimination, French and Handy agree, is a critical step in creating change. For French, drawing attention to the post’s comments was an effective way to shed light on the mindset of a prominent subset of the entertainment industry.

“These are the people who going through footage — shaping, molding, and creating content — and putting it out for the world to see. So these are very influential people,” she said. “I don’t think the goal was to try to change their minds but to draw the attention of thousands of other people.”Handy, however, hopes to inspire self-reflection and change among the singled-out commenters. “My intention was never for them to get canceled or lose their jobs. I’d rather talk to them and come to some kind of understanding,” he said. “I’ve worked with people that had these beliefs, but over time, hearts and minds got changed. So that’s what I hope for.”The desire for common ground and connection, however, does not negate the power of calling out injustice, Handy says.

“We have to call out racism. Like, Black or other, we were not responsible for the things that happened in the past, but we’re responsible for what happens today,” he said. ” And if you stand silent by things that feel discriminatory or hateful, you’re basically condoning it. You’re complicit.”Despite the power of some of the spotlighted commenters, Handy believes that they are at the “fringes” of the industry — his contacts at major networks, he says, are prioritizing hiring Black editors. Both French and Handy have been encouraged by responses detailing concrete, actionable steps to achieving a more equitable working environment. Handy says that he’s had conversations with friends in the Motion Pictures Editors Guild who are pushing for the hiring of a diversity and inclusion officer to oversee future progress. French added that several showrunners and producers have reached out to her publicly and privately, asking for a list of Black editors to employ on current on future projects. 

“You can post a Black square [on social media] and you can stand in solidarity, but until there are changes in the writing rooms, in post-production, in front of the camera, and behind the camera, words don’t mean anything,” she said. “So I was really happy to see how many people in positions of power want to make a change.”The step forward, she says, feels significant. “For so long, it’s felt like I have been screaming at the top of my lungs in a room full of people who can’t hear me — or they see my mouth moving, but they aren’t listening. So, to see so many people not only hear what I’m saying, but actually stand up and say something, that speaks volumes about where the shift is occurring.” Read more:

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