Anchor To Iranian-American Blogger: ‘You Don’t Sound Like An American’

The Chicago-based WGN-TV news station issued a public apology to blogger Hoda Katebi after a host told her she didn't "sound like an American" during an interview.

A Chicago news station faced internet backlash for telling a young fashion blogger she did not “sound like an American” on national television.

Hoda Katebi, an Iranian-American political fashion blogger who also identifies as Muslim, was interviewed live on WGN-TV last week where she was discussing her blog, JooJoo Azad, and her new book “Tehran Streetstyle.”

The hosts began asking Katebi some very serious political questions to which she offered very thoughtful and honest responses. However, her answer to one question, in particular, garnered a disturbing response from one of the anchors.

They decided to ask Katebi about nuclear weapons in Iran, despite the fact that such a question had nothing to do with why she was on the show.

“Nothing to do with what we are talking about and yet, I'm forced to take up a role as an expert on all things related to Iranian politics — a position I know other POC/Muslims have found themselves in if they have ever been the token Muslim on a panel or interviewed about their work,” Katebi wrote in a blog post addressing the incident.

Seemingly displeased with her answer, the female host told Katebi that she didn’t “sound like an American” in her response as she took the opportunity to shed light on the double standard that exists between the United States and Middle Eastern countries.

In addition to inadvertently suggesting that all Americans must share the same views, the host’s response to Katebi also perpetuated Islamophobic sentiments.

“What an incredibly loaded statement to say to a visibly Muslim woman on live TV, pushing every stereotype of ‘other,’ ‘foreign,’ and ‘incompatible with America’ that Muslims are so systematically characterized as — and therefore used as justification to commit violence against, both here and abroad,” Katebi wrote.

After Katebi shared her experience through her own lens, she received an outpouring of social media support from people who also felt the anchor was out of line.

As of Wednesday, Katebi took to Twitter to share an update that she had received an apology from Robin, the female host who made the egregious statement. She also mentioned that she proposed an opportunity to return to the show to dissect the incident further with their audience and review a reading list she compiled.

WGN-TV also issued an apologetic statement on Twitter.  

Ultimately, Katebi handled the situation gracefully. However, her experience exemplifies the different types of microaggressions experienced by people of color on a daily basis throughout this country. There may not always be malicious intent behind them, but harm is still done.   

 Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr, Frank Boston

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