WGN Cuts Rob Sneed- But Why?

WGN Cuts Rob Sneed- But Why?

Viewers won’t be seeing Rob Sneed on WGN anymore. According to his Facebook status, he “no longer works” for the station. Many of his fans are disgruntled about the station’s decision. Yet, I wasn’t surprised with how he was treated unfairly by management. It all goes back to how black journalists are treated in newsrooms across the nation.

“I Am Not My Hair”- India Arie

The first time I saw Rob Sneed on WGN, I noticed his hair. In the TV news business, Afrocentric hairstyles are frowned upon because white people represent the target audience. Many of them don’t like locs, braids, cornrows, curly hair, afros, or even the bald look. (Trust me, Evelyn Holmes caught a lot of flack at Channel 7 for shaving her head.) Fortunately, Sneed was hired during the post-George Floyd period where white guilt created opportunities for black people more than ever before. After all that rioting, we had pancake companies changing names and our first BiPOC, female Vice President of the United States. When WGN hired Sneed, that was just the icing on the cake.

For me, it was good to see the first brotha with locs since Zachary Kiesch on ABC World News Tonight. For the viewing audience, it was probably not a good thing. Many of our non-melanated Chicagoans don’t understand the importance of hair diversity. However, the opinions of viewers hold a lot of weight with news directors and station management.

Respectability Politics

As black men, we are expected to be “respectable negroes”. Society wants us to wear suits, ties, speak “proper English”, and never challenge the status quo. Whenever we step out of that role, we are scolded and ostracized by the dominant culture. From my perspective, I believe that’s a reason why Rob Sneed was let go. He says that he “keeps it real”, but Dave Chappelle has warned us about when that goes wrong.

I just hope that Rob Sneed doesn’t flip over a table and throw up the Wu-Tang sign about this decision.

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