One of the biggest publications in Scottsdale, Arizona is inarguably the Arizona Foothills Magazine. The magazine has a lot of local Scottsdale businesses that pay top advertising dollars in order to be featured in it. Recently, the publication underwent a major scandal when Hannah Dee, the wife of owner Michael Dee, took to her social media to make remarks that were blatantly racist and had a threatening tone to them as well.
Specifically, Hannah posted “Isn’t it time for one of these deranged individuals who do mass shootings to come out and help the police?” With this statement, she suggested that it would be helpful for a “mass shooter” to come out and help the police against the Black Lives Matter protesters. In addition, Hannah commented that “the black community creates a higher percentage of crime so your numbers would be correct.”
Since the scandal broke out, as one commenter on their latest apology Instagram post pointed out, the magazine put out multiple apologies (most of which are now deleted). These included:
- Blaming Hannah’s pill addiction and a problem with alcohol as to why she was racist
- A video with Hannah claiming she was “sorry for what she MAY have said”
- Another statement saying they were “hiring a black person,” amongst other things
- A fourth apology that was deleted in which someone was heard saying “guys, I used to live with black peoples”
The latest apology- which is still up- is a series of messages on Instagram that are captioned “We are listening. We are changing. We are sorry. Please email [email protected]”
“We are sorry. Earlier [in] the week, a post was made by a member of the AZ Foothills family that was offensive and wrong. While the post was removed, we know that the pain remains and will for some time.”
“We want to make this right and we ask you for the chance to do so,” their statement continued. “We also ask you to help us as we work to be better. We want to hear your ideas. We look to collaborate and partner with organizations and learn what we can do to help us improve.”
“We know that these are just words, but we will turn these words into action,” the statement concluded with. “Our promise to you- We will work every day to regain your trust and to do our part to bring the community together and make the community stronger.” The statement was signed by Michael Dee on June 5th.
After the chaotic situation, we heard from an insider who exclusively shared that “a lot of companies and hotels had already stopped advertising with the publication after the comments that had surfaced from Hannah online.”
This certainly was not surprising to us, given the state of the world and all the protests that have been occurring. It’s a simple fact that no one wants to be affiliated with a publication or company that could be deemed racist in any way.
Amidst all of this, 5 days ago the Arizona Foothills magazine took to Instagram to share some big news. “Please welcome Darris Love, leading contributor to Good News Network, as the new COO of the magazine and his whole team. They alone will guide and create all of the AZFoothills digital/editorial content from here on out.”
“A detailed plan of action and the other voices joining the team will be announced later this week,” the statement concluded with.
So who is Darris Love? Darris is an African-American actor, best known for being featured on Nickelodeon’s The Secret World Of Alex Mack as Raymond Alvarado from 1994-1998. He also has made appearances in such notable films as “Straight Outta Compton,” in which he did the voice for Tupac Shakur and Q.
It’s not unreasonable to question why the Arizona Foothills Magazine would suddenly hire an actor (granted, one who has written, but an actor) as their Chief Operating Officer amidst a scandal involving racism.
We reached out to Love exclusively to ask if he had a statement.
“Thank you for your inquiry,” he began with sharing with us. “I prayed about this situation, the perfect opportunity to be an example of my purpose here on earth. Working in Hollywood as a kid since 5 years old, I saw so many ‘celebs’ talk about how they want to help make a difference but (take) no action other than donating to their favorite charity or volunteering time. In this day and time, a financial donation is not going to suffice. More significant work is required.”
He continued explaining to us: “These social injustices are not about being black or white; it’s not about who is right or wrong. It’s about a resolution to a problem, not a revolution. This is the reason why I am stepping up taking the responsibility as the new COO of AZ Foothills.”
“One thing I know from being an Influencer and actor for more than 30 years is that you cannot please all fans,” he elaborated. “I am here to create a platform for everyone to have a seat at the table and a platform that will produce a response from the community: no more quotes, no more words, only actions. The people have spoken. No more police brutality. No more injustice. Now is the time for real solutions.”
“On a personal note,” he initially wrapped with telling us, “I have been a part of the Arizona community for the past 15 years. My family is here and this is my home.”
After our initial correspondence with Darris, we had some sources coming to us claiming that he actually did NOT live in Arizona and actually resided in Los Angeles, California. We asked him if he could clarify/if he was planning to move to Arizona now that he was the COO of Arizona Foothills.
“I have had a home here [Arizona] we bought for my little brother Chance,” he told us when broached on the subject of if he lived in Scottsdale or not. “I moved here in March permanently pre-coronavirus.”
We also touched base with Michael Dee who told us that “The way we apologized was rushed and wrong. No excuses. We could have done better for sure.”
Since Darris was hired, many have taken to Instagram comments to express they are not happy with the decision to hire Darris.
Some comments include:
- “No… Just no. This is one of those ‘I’m not racist. My sister’s boyfriend is black’ moments… #youfail.”
- “This is a bandaid and feels very disingenuous.”
- “You hired him out of guilt and embarrassment not because you genuinely felt he should be your COO. You hired a blank employee as quickly as possible as opposed to stepping up and DIRECTLY APOLOGIZING.”
- “So rather than hire an Editor, or an accomplished writer who would actually have creative control, they decided to hire a black actor. Racism is weird.”
There are a bunch of other comments of a similar vein.
And what did Michael Dee have to say about these comments, specifically in regards to the rush hiring of Darris and it being a “bandaid?”
“Darris is a man of God and more important change and this is no stunt,” he explained. “It would end his career.”
“This is no bandaid,” he added. “He has a vision.”
What will happen going forward remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain- this is a PR nightmare they are not going to recover from anytime soon.