Klingman is the social media editor of The Paw Print, the college’s school newspaper.
Alexi McCammond’s resignation is a missed opportunity to encourage growth and change. While McCammond’s past tweets are completely unacceptable, it is not right to allow things she said in 2011 to end her career, one which is focused on uplifting people. By apologizing for her words and actively addressing the harm that was caused, McCammond and Teen Vogue would promote the idea that change is possible.
I think it is important to note that she was 17 years old at the time of her posts. Of course, there is no excuse for racist behavior at any age, and her remarks should not be taken lightly. However, people can change in significant ways over 10 years, especially in their late teens and early twenties. The discovery of old tweets should not discredit who she is today.
It is impossible to say what the “correct” response is, but this situation could be viewed as an opportunity for growth. By taking responsibility for her actions and working to prove herself in the future, McCammond could show people that it is possible—and encouraged—to overcome the racism that might have been ignored in the past. Societal change is impossible without acknowledging the past and actively working toward a better and more inclusive future on an individual level.
McCammond addressed her tweets and apologized for her words. She says that she has “redoubled (her) commitment to growing in the years to come as both a person and as a professional.” McCammond became a journalist to “help lift up the stories and voices of our most vulnerable communities.” Her current and future actions should not be dismissed because of decade-old Twitter posts.
Once again, I do not intend to make light of the content of her tweets under any circumstances. Acknowledging that her remarks were unacceptable is a good place to start, but what comes next is equally important. Collective change is not possible without individual growth. McCammond’s actions in the future would show that mistakes, even extremely harmful ones, do not need to define one’s character indefinitely.
Page, the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary, is a columnist syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services and a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. He is also a regular contributor of essays to “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and has been a regular on “The McLaughlin Group,” “Nightline,” as well as other news panel programs.
Since she shows no signs of intent to become a repeat offender, I believe Alexi McCammond deserves a second chance.
Yes, I believe her three tweets in question were offensive and childish, whether for public or private conversations—and nothing these days seems to be more public than a tweet.
I was also disturbed personally as an African American, like Ms. McCammond, that she was so insensitive and offensive toward Asian Americans. As a matter of simple decency, we don’t help ourselves by demeaning other people, regardless of race or ethnicity.
However, in judging the content of her character by the content of her tweets, I cannot help but remember that she was 17 at the time, the same age at which I entered journalism as a freelancing high school student. It would be hypocritical of me to claim that, even for an exceptionally bright 17-year-old, bad judgement in the moment is an uncommon event.
To those who say “sorry” isn’t enough, I say, let those who are without sin and have no regrets about anything they ever said or did—or tweeted—as a teenager cast the first stones.
McCammond is now 27. I’m a lot older than that. I came into newsrooms in the wake of the 1960s riots that led to diversity. A lot of us—white and “colored,” as many still said—were apprehensive about the new diversity. We all had a lot to learn about each other and a lot of mistakes were made, some funnier than others. But long story short, we learned to get along. Most importantly, we learned how to be sensitive to each other’s points of view and passed on those lessons to our audiences. Ms. McCammond made a mistake with her tweets long ago. To her credit, she has apologized—twice.
A lot has been said and written about “cancel culture” surrounding this episode. My larger concern is how her resignation shows the larger devaluing of apology in our culture as a gateway to two increasingly rare commodities: forgiveness and redemption.