Michelle Burdo spent 18 months as a morning anchor at CBS Atlanta. CREDIT: CBS Atlanta
Photo: Rodney Ho/Radio and TV Talk
Photo: Rodney Ho/Radio and TV Talk

Michelle Burdo of CBS46 apologizes for saying 'colored woman'

CBS46 morning show host Michelle Burdo used the dated term "colored woman" during a segment about summer hair tips Monday morning during the 9 a.m. CBS Better Mornings Atlanta program.

"Let me tell you something," Burdo said during a live segment to an African-American woman who appears to be the hair expert. "I'm not a colored woman but I have kinky hair just like her and when you straighten it every day, it's..." She pauses.

The woman filled the empty air by saying, "healthier."

Here's a 12-second portion of the segment:

On Tuesday's show, at 9:57 a.m., Burdo apologized for her utterance. "Yesterday, I made a pretty insensitive remark during one of our segments here on Better Mornings Atlanta. I apologize... Once again, I truly want to say from the bottom of my heart that I really am sorry about that comment. I made that comment in reference to my hair color but I used an inappropriate term."

Someone posted the video on YouTube. Comments there and on Facebook include "what the hell," "we are living in sad times" and "Her color is IGNORANT and UNINFORMED. Where did they find her...Mars?"

Camille Mahdi on Facebook was a bit more empathetic: "LOL, she probably meant to say one thing, but said what she was thinking. That's honesty. She's an idiot, but I am not offended in the least bit."

Lane Michaelsen, the CBS46 news director, said in an email that he made sure she apologized on air but didn't say if she was reprimanded in any tangible way.  At least she was informed that the phrase "colored" isn't considered politically correct in this day and age. "Women of color" is okay. "Colored woman"? Not so much.

Is "colored" merely an outdated phrase or is it offensive? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as either or.   About.com wrote an article about what racial terms to avoid and spends time with the word "colored."

There’s also the popularity of the more modern (and appropriate) term “people of color.” Some people may think it’s okay to simply shorten that phrase to “colored,” but they’re mistaken. Like “Oriental,” “colored” harkens back to an era of exclusion, a time when Jim Crow was in full force, and blacks used water fountains marked “colored” and sat in the “colored” sections of buses, beaches and restaurants. In essence, the term stirs up painful memories.

Earlier on today's show, co-host Annalee Penny, after showing a viral video of Erykah Badu trying to kiss a reporter in New York during a live shot, uttered, "You never know what's going to happen when it comes to live TV."

"Ain't that the truth!" Burdo responded. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.