theGrio: Sunny Hostin on confronting discrimination at ABC: ‘I needed to take a stand’

By Keydra Manns

It may be 2020 but discrimination and bias continue to plague Black Americans in the workplace. 

In a recent sit down with theGrio’s Natasha S. Alford, author, attorney and co-host of The ViewSunny Hostinshared the moments she realized she was being discriminated against while working for ABC, and how she mustered the courage to do something about it — which says was worth the risk.

“I had heard that I was the least paid host on the panel,” Hostin shared. “Even though I had the most legal experience and I was a legal correspondent. I had two jobs at the network.”

But in reality she knew she wasn’t being treated fairly. The discrimination, she said, was painfully obvious.

“I was the only show host in history that had not been publicly announced as a show host. I knew that I was the only host who was given a third-floor dressing room and everyone else had a dressing room on the second floor.”

Despite being reminded on a daily basis that she was being treated unfairly, the host kept her mouth shut until one day she couldn’t.

“But I kept putting it to the back of my head that if I show up and I work hard it’s a true meritocracy and I’ll be rewarded for it and that I shouldn’t say anything. But then a reporter called me … and once I was confronted with the truth that I had been discriminated against … I needed to stand up.”

The attorney documents her experience with the network in her new book, I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds. She says when ABC executives read about her experience they addressed her complaints and tried to rectify the situation — but not before asking her to remove certain chapters of the book. 

Hostin said the experience gave her something she was lacking.

“That recent experience happened this summer and it was the time that I felt like I really found my voice,” said Hostin. “It was the first time that I authentically stuck up for myself, it’s something that comes very hard for me, surprisingly, if I need to stick up for my kids I’m a mama bear. If I need to stick up for anyone else I can do it ferociously.”

Hostin said she spoke up so people behind her wouldn’t experience what she went through professionally.

“I needed to take a stand to make the road a little bit easier for the people that were going to come behind me,” she said. “And it felt freeing.”

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