Queen of the Hill…Shame on You ESPN
“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.” This was the statement ESPN released after Jemele Hill, the co-host of the 6 p.m. broadcast of SportsCenter made some controversial statements about President Trump from her twitter account. Hill did not shy away from sharing her personal views in a series of tweets that made ESPN feel like they had to do damage control and distance themselves from Hill’s personal views.
Hill stated “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.” Hill also went on to tweet “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.” Hill as an African American woman sports anchor is in a class of her own, as their are not many black anchor women who hold the platform of hosting a primetime sports show.
Hill caused uproar on Twitter with these statements as many people felt outraged and began demanding that Hill be fired from ESPN. Her comments even rubbed officials wrong in the White House as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated in a press conference “That’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.” Jemele Hill should be fired for making a statement about the President on her own personal platform? Interesting to see that as a country we are moving to an era of censorship where speaking on your political views is a “fireable offense.”
The White House has done a poor job addressing some of country’s latest racial issues, especially after President Trump faced major backlash for how he responded to the events at Charlottesville. Jemele Hill using her platform to address the issues of the White House employing known White Supremacists and facing backlash for it just further strengthens the argument that there are still racial agendas that have yet to be addressed. Many people have felt the need to sweep racial issues under the rug as if they do not still exist, but major athletes and sports figures have been using their platforms more and more and this seems to make people uncomfortable.
Should politics be left outside of sports? That is the message that ESPN relayed to Jemele Hill, basically saying that her political views have no place here as an ESPN employee. Instead of stating that they support Hill in having her own political views, which Hill did state were hers and not of ESPN, they went out of there way to make a public statement to say that her statement was inappropriate. So what is appropriate ESPN?
As if being a minority at this time where racial tension is at high is not hard enough, being a black woman with a voice on national television has even more difficulties. Last month during an SI Media Panel, Hill stated-
“I have to talk myself out of sending certain tweets several times a day,” Hill told SI. “When you're under the leadership of a President that refuses to condemn Nazis and racism, how am I supposed to function the rest of the day and pretend as if I give a sh*t about Blake Bortles losing his job? That's the conversation I'm having with myself on daily basis. I know there are sports fans looking for me to provide them with an ‘escape,’ but as a woman and person of color, I have no escape from the fact that there are people in charge who seem to be either sickened by my existence or are intent on erasing my dignity in every possible way. So today, my feed is probably a little edgier than it was. It's reflective of all the emotion and conflict I feel. I think others feel the same way.”
The issues that Hill addresses may rub people the wrong way but at the end of the day they too have the right to not follow her on twitter or watch her show. The right to practice personal discretion for viewers is just as important as public figures having the right to express personal views and bring attention to issues that are clearly plaguing this country. Whether Hill’s statement about Trump being a white supremacist or racist is true or not, it is personal opinion and nowhere near a fireable offense. Maybe the fans and White House executives should concern themselves with actual issues rather than be outraged over what one woman says on her twitter page or when another athlete takes a knee for social injustices.