Harlem Globetrotter Maxwell Pearce is speaking out after two white news broadcasters threw a banana and other fruit at him during a live TV segment. The incident occurred back in February, when the member of the legendary team — known as “Hops Pearce” — was being interviewed on WBRC Fox6 in Birmingham, Alabama.
While demonstrating some basketball tricks for the show, people on the set threw a tangerine and then a banana at Pearce. In a YouTube video shared on Saturday (Aug. 15), Pearce said that while he found the act “disrespectful and egregious,” he tried his best to maintain his composure.
“Throwing fruit at me diminishes the Naismith Hall of Fame legacy of the Harlem Globetrotters to that of a circus,” Pearce said in his video. “But throwing a banana at a Black man and passing it off as entertainment displays an unacceptable lack of awareness. And quite frankly, I’m having a very difficult time understanding how someone could work in the media field and not know that this is offensive.”
The act carries historical racist undertones, which Pearce noted “date back to the early 1900’s when Black people were held on display in human zoos.”
Pearce said he was initially torn about whether or not to speak out publicly about the incident. However, after months of reflection and the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, he decided to use his experience to raise awareness.
“This is a prime example of how 400 years of oppression have impacted this country,” he said. “This is symbolic of the daily micro-aggressions Black people deal with and I’m not going to be silent about it any longer.”
WBRC News Director Shannon Isbell responded to Pearce’s video in a statement on Monday (Aug. 17).
“WBRC Fox6 would like to take this opportunity to again extend a heartfelt and sincere apology to Globetrotter Max Pearce,” the statement read. “An on-air segment promoting a Globetrotters event with Mr. Pearce months ago was intended to be lighthearted. However, it became something deeply hurtful to our guest as the result of our lack of understanding.”
Pearce says neither of show’s anchors have offered him an apology. Watch his video below.