The Today Show’s Al Roker recently released a new book entitled, You Look So Much Better in Person. In the book he recounts a racist experience he once encountered while on-air as a reporter for WKYC, an affiliate in Cleveland. He and his current co-anchor, Craig Melvin, discussed the incident during the show, according to Today.
At the time, Roker had been working with the late Doug Adair. At the end of each workday they would exit the studio located in downtown Cleveland. One night, a Black homeless man hit Adair with a rolled up newspaper before running away. It wasn’t the incident itself that shocked Roker, but the way that Adair commented on it the next day while they were on-air.
“Anyway, the next day we get on the air and his wife, Mona, is about to introduce me, and he goes, ‘Mona, before you introduce Al, Al I don’t know if you know this, but last night, one of your people attacked me,”’ Roker recalled.
Adair was of course referring to Roker’s race, but the weatherman tried to make the best of the awkward situation with his own quick wit. Despite his admitted shock, he clapped back with a joke.
“Now this is one of those moments where time stands still. What do I do? And I just looked at him and I go, ‘Doug why would a weatherman attack you?’ And then just went into the weather,” he told Melvin.
The quick remark caused plenty of viewers to call into the studio to speak in support of Roker.
The incident taught Roker, who was young at the time, an important lesson. He could not assume he knew who his coworkers truly were.
Of course, if this remark had been made today, Adair would have likely received far stronger backlash, as Roker acknowledged. He concluded this conversation by admitting to Melvin that there are times when he wants to clap back but holds his tongue.
“There are times when you want to go low. You want to take people off at their knees, but it’s just not worth it,” he said.
Like Roker, Melvin has also been candid about the topic of race recently, as The Inquisitr previously reported. In a recent essay, Melvin opened up about the way he grew up and was sheltered from racism. Now that he has two biracial children of his own, he is still learning and preparing to have a conversation about the topic with them.