A white lady news anchor said ‘fo shizzle my nizzle’ on air and got benched for her trouble
OPINION: Barbie Bassett has not been seen on air since she quoted Snoop Dogg on live television, but I'm sure she's going to be fine because white people always are — even when they are being racist.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
I know the white tears are going to come out for this one.
I am also fully aware that we shouldn’t laugh at other people’s “misfortune,” but I cannot help it in this case.
She did it to herself.
In case you don’t know who the “she” is I’m talking about, allow me to get you caught up.
Barbie Bassett, a white meteorologist, was a longtime morning anchor on WLBT, an NBC affiliate that serves the Jackson, Mississippi market.
I say “was” and not “is” because Barbie messed around and found out what happens when “keeping it real” goes wrong. She was taken off the air after a stunt she pulled on March 8.
During a news segment in which Bassett and her colleagues were discussing Snoop Dogg’s 19 Crimes wine collection, one of her co-anchors suggested that Snoop get a wine collaboration going with one of their coworkers, “Julie.” Barbie enthusiastically agreed, and when the co-anchor went on to suggest that Julie would then go on to get a Snoop Dogg tattoo, Bassett replied, “Fo shizzle, my nizzle” live and on camera.
Allow me to make a few notes here that provide context for why this is wrong and why this matters.
Barbie Bassett is and was a news anchor in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi thee blackest state in the union, and Jackson is thee blackest big city in thee blackest state in the union.
I’m sure Barbie was a beloved part of people’s daily news routine down there, and that’s fine, but there’s this thing that happens when white people get too comfortable around Black people: They start thinking they can say and do things they normally wouldn’t if they didn’t have that familiarity.
To be clear, “nizzle” is a euphemism for the n-word. Most of us know that, and I’m sure Barbie Bassett was well aware of that before she let it come out of her mouth. Using the euphemism instead of the real word when you are a white person is still egregious no matter how you try to defend it or spin it. You shouldn’t be trying to use that word in any way, shape or form, even if you try to say she was just emulating or paying homage to Snoop Dogg, it’s still wrong.
It’s just like the digital blackface conversation — there are no passes for this.
Bassett has not appeared on air since the incident happened, and according to multiple news reports, no reason has been given for her absence. While station vice president and general manager Ted Fortenberry said on social media, “WLBT is unable to comment on personnel matters,” there is no official word on whether she has actually been fired. Her bio is no longer on the station’s website, and she has reportedly removed any mention of WLBT from her Facebook page.
The Vicksburg Daily News reports that an unnamed source has confirmed that Bassett is no longer with the station. The Daily News also noted that this is not the first time Bassett has said something offensive on air.
During an October 2022 segment on ESPN Gameday in Jackson, Bassett was speaking to a Black woman who was on the ground reporting on the event from the field.
“But Carmen … girl … sis,” Bassett said in an affected blaccent, “I know you well enough to know that those guys working behind you, they probably know who the celebrity Gameday figure is, so you need to go swing by the Krogers, get you a chocolate pie … and you need to go offering it to some of those guys working behind you and see if you can get the scoop from one of those in return. I know your mother or your grandmammy got some type of a recipe that you can whip up. Don’t you think? Take it to them?”
Talking in a blaccent? Adding the extra “s” to the end of a word the way Black people do? Using the word “grandmammy”?
Is she serious with this mess?
White people made everything about race
Viewers were understandably offended by the exchange, and Bassett reportedly apologized for it the next day.
Like I said before, Barbie knew what she was doing, but that didn’t stop the White People Doing Racist Things Defense League from hopping on Twitter to defend Bassett and say how wrong it is that she has been taken off the air.
“Why would they fire her just for saying fo sizzle my nizzle,” one asked.
“Hey WLBT in Jackson, MS,” someone named John Lewis tweeted. “Firing long time employee Barbi Bassett was a giant mistake. So awhile back she said ‘Fo, sizzle my nizzle’ So what? She likely had no idea of the meaning. Neither do I other than it’s slang.”
(Barbie knew, John. She knew.)
And, of course, we had this take: “What you did is perfectly fine and so is saying Fo’ Sizzle my Nizzle. If it is ok for blacks to be racist to white people then it is ok for whites to be racist to blacks. If not then you should not propagate the issue.”
Sorry. I laughed and rolled my eyes so hard they rolled across the room, so brb cause I have to go get them.
OK, I’m back.
Listen. Barbie is going to be just fine. She is a white woman in a white-controlled media landscape, and the fact that there has been no official statement about her being fired indicates to me that she will likely be reinstated when all of this “blows over.”
That is the way it always is when things like this happen to white people. When the storm dies down, they are right back where they were or sometimes in an even better position because cancel culture is an imaginary concept they came up with to avoid accountability for their actions.
AAVE is not your slang, white people, but more on that later.
In the meantime, just understand that there is no justification or pass for white people using a Black euphemism for the n-word no matter how many times you have heard Snoop Dogg or any other Black person saying it.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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