We're at a flashpoint. When this moment in time is revisited, the NFL, ESPN and countless others will be on the wrong side of history. In America, we're literally at a point in time where the occupant of the oval office (regardless of how unqualified) is held to a lower standard than a sports journalist and starting NFL quarterback.
Cam Newton received tremendous pressure from press and feminist in wake of his dismissive comments toward a female beat writer, so much so that he was dropped as a spokesperson for Dannon yogurt and issued a public apology not only to the journalist but all women who may have been offended. Was Cam wrong? Absolutely!
In October of this year, a recording was released of then Presidential candidate Donald Trump from the set of "Days of our lives" from 2005 where he uttered the now infamous phrase "grab them by the pussy". What was the fallout from this sexually predatory statement? Media outrage, Trump becomes President and women march. For the sake of comparison, Cam Newton's response to Jourdan Rodrique was a chuckle followed by "it's funny to hear a female talk about routes". That's it! I'll play devil's advocate and suggest in the way the statement was delivered and Newton's laugh that preceded it, it was meant to be a compliment but these things can often be misconstrued and it was a faux pas nevertheless. End result is that one man loses endorsements and the other man is endorsed by over 50% of white women and becomes President. The dichotomy of America.
Now we have Jemele Hill. Roughly a month after being attacked by 45 for calling him a White Supremacist on Twitter, (a statement that isn't far-fetched based on Trump's history, parental upbringing, business practices and degenerate associates), Hill has now been suspended by ESPN for something far less indicting but ultimately more revealing. After the PR stunt that was Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys kneeling, arms locked in unison on Monday Night Football prior to the national anthem, Jones's stance on the anthem and the protest miraculously (insert sarcasm here) took a sharp turn. With some likely prodding from his personal friend that spends more time on Twitter as a perpetual distraction rather than addressing policies that affect things that actually matter, Jones drew a line in the sand and stated that all of "his" players will stand and honor the anthem or risk being benched.
It was all good just a week ago.
Jones, with this stance has knowingly or not forced the hands of the most loyal fan base in all of sports. Black fans are in a position where they feel they have to choose their race over their sports franchise. Thankfully for myself, I've never been a Cowboys fan and the coach of my favorite sports team happens to be Gregg Popovich and we all know where he stands in regards to White Supremacy, race relations and 45. The man has attended town halls with Cornell West for heaven's sake but I digress.
Hill took to Twitter to challenge the fans of the Cowboys to voice their outrage where it matters most in a capitalistic society...with their dollars. Forego patronizing not only the Cowboys, but also the sponsors of the Cowboys. Apparently, that was step too far and ESPN handed down a two-week suspension to the satisfaction 45 himself who inexplicably blamed Hill for ESPN's falling ratings amongst other alternative facts that him and his cronies like to flood the media with. Hill's point, which I agree with, is that Jones in one fell swoop placed an unfair amount of pressure on his Black and Brown players while acquiescing to the demands of 45 and the Cowboys fan base which I’m certain he feels is predominately blinded by false patriotism. When you're an old, white and wealthy man in America, how could you possibly see it any other way, right?
So here we have Jemele Hill as the sacrificial lamb in a movement that began with a silent and peaceful protest by Colin Kaepernick to shed light on social and racial inequity in this country. History is littered with strong Black women that have put their necks on the line when even the strongest of Black men were unwilling to do so. We have a league that is 70% Black men, some millionaires, some not. However, I’m pretty sure most make as much or more than what ESPN pays Jemele Hill. Then we have the men that continue to patronize the product of a league that has made it clear that if you can't entertain, your life lacks value. These are the ones that have been acquitted of committing to the cause and are also the people, which Hill was referencing. Are you not willing to sacrifice hours of entertainment for the collective advancement of not only your people, but also society as a whole? Revolutions are uncomfortable but as Black men, if you're incapable of forfeiting the temporary pleasure the escape the football provides for the permanent progression of our people, you don't deserve equity, freedom and women such as Jemele Hill that are willing to fight for such.
Stand with Jemele.