A radio host apologized Monday for calling secretary of state nominee Condoleezza Rice “Aunt Jemima,” but refused to back down from his criticism that she is a “black trophy” of the Bush administration.
John “Sly” Sylvester, the program director and morning personality on WTDY-AM, wrote a letter of apology to local newspapers.
“I’m concerned that I have offended many African-Americans by using a crass term to describe an incompetent, dishonest political appointee of the Bush administration. I apologize,” wrote Sylvester, who is white.
Sylvester wrote he would not, however, apologize for criticizing Rice, saying “she has allowed herself to be used as a black trophy by an administration.”
Sylvester used the term on last Wednesday’s show to describe Rice and other black officials as having only a subservient role in the Bush administration. He also referred to Secretary of State Colin Powell as an “Uncle Tom” — a contemptuous term for a black person whose behavior toward whites is regarded as fawning or servile.
NAACP likens it to KKK attacks
He fanned the flames two days later by issuing an apology to the fictional Aunt Jemima. Sylvester has been sharply criticized by civic and civil rights leaders; NAACP president Kweisi Mfume said the attacks on Rice “are just as bad as those who hide under sheets and burn crosses.”
The flap comes less than three weeks after conservative Milwaukee radio show host Mark Belling’s referred to undocumented Mexican immigrants as “wetbacks.” Belling was taken off the air for a week.
Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s general manager, Tom Walker, said there are no plans to discipline Sylvester, and that the radio host issued the apology on his own. “I don’t agree with his comments and I don’t like them,” Walker said.