Posts Tagged ‘White Supremacy’

Where Jemele Hill Went Wrong

Friday, September 15th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

JH

“Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.”

“His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”

“He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.”

“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

“The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you.”

“Well, it’s a threat to me.”

“Donald Trump is a bigot. Glad you could live with voting for him. I couldn’t, because I cared about more than just myself.”

“I hate a lot of things but not enough to jeopardize my fellow citizens with an unfit, bigoted, incompetent moron. But hey, that’s just me.”

These are the tweets that landed ESPN commentator Jemele Hill into hot water.

Every last word is true!  

At the very least, it’s much easier to support what she says about the current president of the “Divided” States of America than it would be to refute them.  

And still yet often in America, truth is not the point! The denial of truth is.

Hill’s comments addressed the truth.  They did not address the denial of the truth, which is a prerequisite.  

It’s like trying to administer treatment or medicine to someone that does not acknowledge being sick.

I realize that this is a hard thing for truth loving people to stomach, especially those of us who are either more likely to be vulnerable to the adverse effects of the current president’s mindset and policies.  It is equally troubling for those who thought that they could find refuge from political commentary in sports.  

The point is that in America we have tacitly understood sacred cow subjects around which we are required to steer clear of under all circumstances, and race in sports is right at the top of that list.  

Full disclosure: Jemele Hill, along with Bomani Jones, Tim Kurkjian, and Jay Bilas, are my favorite ESPN commentators. Unlike Erin Andrews of Fox (throw a nickel out the window and you could hit 20 others who can do what Andrews does), she actually knows sports. She is insightful beyond sports, which is why she had to know that she was violating the code. What code you ask? The code that says as a sports commentator you are to, above all and foremost, insure that your white audience is comfortable with your commentary. Calling a man that more than a few of them voted for, a white supremacist, though absolutely true, is a violation of the code. One of the requirements to maintain a position such as the one Hill occupies is self-censorship.  

Now the other end of this is Jason Whitlock, who either consciously or subconsciously talks about race all the time, but in a way that placates the very element that is currently outraged about Hill’s comments.

As a result, his place in the mainstream sports media is secure.

I am not saying that she should not have said what she did. I am actually always happy to hear “insiders” rock the boat.  I am saying that when you do, understand that the pushback will be fierce and swift, and if one is not prepared to absorb such pushback without apologizing, why say it at all?  

My first degree from Howard University was in Journalism. My desire was to be what Hill is today, which is part of why I am a fan and have such great respect for her. I actually wrote for a Washington Black weekly paper upon graduating and was offered an internship with ABC News under Sam Donaldson. I turned it down and have no regrets. My thinking even then, over 20 years ago, was that to progress in such an environment would require I engage in the type of self-censorship that would have kept Hill out of the hot water she is currently in, and I knew that I simply could not adhere to “the code”.  

In the end, the issue is not Jemele Hill or even ESPN. The issue is the delusional notion that sports is some isolated haven, free of political commentary, or even that it should be. History proves this to be a fallacy.  Be it the influence of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line in baseball, or the civil rights movement, or Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War, sports has always been a platform to address larger issues to include politics as well it should be. But until the contrary myth is debunked, the likes of Jemele Hill and others of her valuable consciousness have a decision to make: is it best to maintain her current platform and speak truth to power from within the existing mainstream system or leave it and all of its perks and restraints to do so from the outside?  Neither you nor I can make that decision for her. If she leaves on principle, I’ll miss her on ESPN but respect her decision.  If she remains, she will surely have to understand that the push-back she is receiving is indeed the price of the party.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports