by Tyronda James
The phenomenon of women being harassed in public is nothing new. But, television news reporter, Brianna Hamblin of Rochester’s Spectrum News 1, brought the issue to the forefront when her tweets highlighting an incident, Friday, went viral.
The journalist was harassed by a man as she and cameramen prepared to go live on the air.
“You look nice by the way,” one man said before he goes on about his business. To which she replies, “Thank you.”
Another man says, “you’re beautiful as hell, ***damn.” Instead of walking away, the man continues with profanity and several comments degrading to women, attempting to make conversation with Hamblin and making things uncomfortable.
Through it all Hamblin remained calm, collected and professional. “Alright. We are done here. Have a great rest of your day.”
Following the incident, Hamblin posted a thread to Twitter and said that the comments were “disgusting” and racist.
“Being hit on and harassed as a woman, especially as a woman reporter out in the field, happens so often you learn how to roll with it or ignore it,” she wrote. “This time it happened to be recorded only seconds before my hit. There are A LOT of things wrong with this.”
“1. If you don’t want to be on camera, simply avoid it or ask nicely to not be on camera. Don’t walk towards it or make a scene. Who said this was about you?”
“2. ‘Oh, men these days just can’t give compliments.’ No. The first man’s “you look nice” as he continued to walk away is fine. It’s the 2nd man who took this to another disgusting level it didn’t need to be.”
“3. The audacity of the things men say to me never ceases to amaze me. What makes you think women want to be talked to that way? In no way is this endearing. It’s uncomfortable. It’s gross.”
“4. Being a Black woman in this industry has its own headaches, but talking down on one group of women to “praise” another group is NEVER okay. It just shows you have a disgusting fetish based on stereotypes, which is just as racist.”
Since the incident happened Hamblin’s post has received over 5 million views on Twitter and support from a number of celebrities like Sherri Saum and Kathy Griffin.
Others in the journalism industry who have experienced similar harassment also offered their support. Journalists Natasha S. Alford, Soledad O’Brien, Kathy Hunter, among many others.
Lynette Adams, veteran reporter and anchor with News10NBC said, “I’m so sorry you had to deal with this ignorance and disrespect. However you showed what you are made of….class! I applauded not only your professionalism, but also your strength! Please do not for one minute let it affect your ROC experience. Keep doing what you do!”
Lynnanne Nguyen, FOX4 News reporter in Dallas, replying to Hamblin’s tweet said, “To everyone surprised at this behavior, I promise you this does not shock a single female reporter. Happens to us all the time.”
Hamblin said she has not been doing any interviews because she doesn’t want the attention focused on her. “This is something every woman has experienced. I’m just happy to have initiated a dialogue on the issue,” she said.
The Rochester Association of Black Journalist issued a statement in response to sexual harassment experienced by the journalist:
“The Rochester Association of Black Journalists supports and commends Spectrum News 1 journalist Brianna Hamblin for her bravery in confronting the inappropriate behavior of male passersby during her news reporting Friday. Unfortunately the harassment of women in public spaces is not uncommon. But women should not be forced to just roll with it or ignore it,” as emphasized in Hamblin’s tweet exposing the situation.”
Hamblin is being praised for her professionalism. She apologized to all women who related to her harassment and thanked them for sharing their own experiences, “so men realize how common and unwanted this is.”
“There are a LOT of things wrong with this,” Hamblin wrote. “The audacity of the things men say to me never ceases to amaze me.”
“People think that when we smile in uncomfortable situations means we are OK with what is happening at that moment. On the contrary, we are trying to deescalate the situation and walk away with our lives,” said one Twitter user, Delrose 30.