Panera Bread drops video editor after he criticizes online call for black-only editors

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The restaurant chain Panera Bread announced it will cut ties with a white filmmaker after he criticized a call for black-only editors by a black production company CEO.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Rikarlo Handy, a black film editor based in Pasadena, posted to a private Facebook group that he was looking to hire other black editors, a post that drew pushback from others in the industry, including white editors.

“Looking for Black Union editors … please dm me your contact info!” Handy posted to the 14,000-member group on Tuesday.

The paper noted:

Handy, who owns his own multimedia company, Sunwise Media, wasn’t prepared for what happened next. By Wednesday morning he had received hundreds of responses from members of the group. Many were supportive but some white editors were openly vitriolic, accusing him of “anti-white racism” and of “reverse discrimination,” according to screenshots of the post shared with The Times.

New York City-based editor Nathan Lee Bush, a long-time cinematographer, editor, and filmmaker, responded with a sarcastic message suggesting he would only seek out white editors in the future.

“Fine I’m going to start preferencing the wrong/bad race and gender in my hiring from now on. See how many clap emojis I get,” the now-deleted post noted.

“People have really become confused about reality. ‘Discrimination was BAD before but now discrimination is GOOD but only when applied against the BAD groups,’” Bush continued. “How underdeveloped does your capacity for reason have to be where this passes for logic? Legitimate insanity bordering on religious hysteria.”

“Those 11 words set off a firestorm in the group, leading to racist posts in the comments and a heated debate about diversity, discrimination and opportunity,” Handy said in a statement to the L.A. Times.

“Several members of the group, myself included, were deeply offended by some of the responses by white editors who perceived my effort to source more editors of color as some sort of ‘reverse discrimination.’”

Handy, who has worked for Fox, BET, CBS, and other networks, said that editorial staff looks pretty much the same to him as they did 20 years ago when he got into the business.

“Nothing changes over the years if you just continue to hire the same people that you know,” he said, the Times reported.

For his part, Bush apologized and essentially deleted all of his online accounts.

“All I was trying to say is: Is the antidote to past discrimination based on skin color more retributive discrimination based on skin color?” Lee Bush said in a written response to the Times.

“I should have, however, realized this was not the time to bring [it] up, with tensions running so high. And certainly, I could have worded these ideas much, much better. I was literally just playing a video game when I casually wrote those words.”

“I had trouble ‘reading the room,’ so to speak, and to anyone I offended, I’m very sorry.” Bush added that his case was another example of the ‘cancel culture’ where “anyone with an unpopular opinion must be utterly and instantaneously destroyed.”

The mea culpa wasn’t good enough for Panera Bread, however.

“The views expressed by this individual are not acceptable, and we will no longer be using their services or allowing use of our logo on this company’s website,” the company announced on Twitter after Bush’s comments were brought to executives’ attention.

Other users disagreed with the company’s decision.

Jon Dougherty

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