'They Do This to Millions': Black Reporter Threatened by KKK Leader Speaks Out

In an interview that aired on Sunday, Univision's Ilia Calderón endures racial slurs and outright threats of violence from her subject. She told Broadly it was a necessary sacrifice to show the reality of hate groups.

by Gabby Bess
Aug 21 2017, 10:25pm

On Sunday night, in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia, white-supremacist rally, Univision aired a segment filmed at a Ku Klux Klan gathering. The piece was accompanied by an interview with a leader of a KKK chapter in North Carolina, Christopher Barker, and his wife, Amanda, both of which took place in July at Barker's home. The interview was conducted by Ilia Calderón, a black news anchor from Colombia, and in terrifying clips from the segment that went viral over the weekend, Barker's racist hatred for Calderón is on display. According to Calderón, Barker was told by a producer that he would be sitting down with a Hispanic "woman of color"—but apparently he didn't expect a black woman.

Noting that Calderón was the first black person to step onto his property in 20 years, Barker calls her a "nigger" and "mongrel" and threatens to "burn" her and all other immigrants out of the country.

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"How are you going to do that to 11 million immigrants?" Calderón shoots back. Barker replies: "We killed six million Jews last time. Eleven million is nothing."

In another clip from the interview, despite threatening Calderón because of her race and openly expressing their desire to exterminate entire groups of people, Barker and his wife say that they're not racist. In late 2016, Barker was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in connection with a stabbing at a Klan rally celebrating the election of Donald Trump.

"I believe—and my bosses believe—that your skin color can't limit your work as a journalist."

Since the segment aired, Univision has received some backlash for putting a black woman in such a dangerous position. But Calderón says the interview was actually her idea. "In editorial meetings, we were constantly discussing how these hate groups were reorganizing; how they are committing crimes; how DREAMers are being attacked by them during rallies," she told Broadly over the phone.

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It was important to her to be able to show how white supremacists were threatening her community. "We knew that they could insult me and call me names, but that didn't stop us from doing what we needed to do, which was to show people that these groups aren't just something from the past century. They're out there, spreading their message, and people feel empowered to commit crimes in the name of hate." She added, "I believe—and my bosses believe—that your skin color can't limit your work as a journalist."

Calderón said her producers wanted to stop the interview when it became hostile, but she wanted to keep filming. "We were a little afraid, but nothing was going to stop us from finishing the interview," said. "What they did to me… they do this to millions out there."