ESPN for the Hat-trick

And by hat-trick I mean the Rachel Nichols sh*t show at ESPN that features a disappointing trifecta of racism, sexism, and privacy rights issues.

Here’s a quote at the center of the controversy that comes from a phone conversation of Nichols that was inadvertently recorded to ESPN servers and then discovered and (illegally?) dispersed by a former/fired ESPN employee:

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in July 2020. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”

A Disparaging Video Prompts Explosive Fallout Within ESPN, New York Times, July 4, 2021

Generally speaking, I’m not surprised that a white person (Rachel Nichols) would feel this way towards a Black person (Maria Taylor) regarding positioning and advancement in the workplace. However, I am surprised that a white person would openly (openly can certainly be debated here, hence the concerns about privacy rights) express such sentiments whose occupation (NBA courtside reporter) involves developing close relationships with the employees (NBA athletes) of an an industry (professional basketball) where Blacks make up nearly 75% of the workforce.

On second thought, I’m not actually surprised by that either.

No matter how much we, and by we I mostly mean progressive whites but just about anyone can be included I suppose, profess to be color blind and sex blind and gender blind and sexuality blind and on and on, it doesn’t take much to trigger us back to type, and by type I mean the socialization/indoctrination process that takes place during our formative years and instills deeply, indelibly some would say, within us our beliefs and values and prejudices and fears.

And the fear of losing one’s livelihood is a heck of a trigger.

Not saying it’s right, just saying that’s the way our world works as I see it.

Which is why there has been and there always will be, at least for the foreseeable future, a critical need for special interest groups, identity politics, and the understanding by all of the concept of intersectionality, a concept more and more of us are becoming familiar with as the ugly and misguided debate about Critical Race Theory drags on.

For an example of how intersectionality works, consider how racism, sexism, and homophobia affects the Black female lesbian, perhaps the most marginalized group in the country:

The most general statement of [the Combahee River Collective] politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives. As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face.

THE COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE STATEMENT (1977), Blackpast.org

Look, I’ve only scratched the surface here so you really need to read the whole story to get a feel for all the unfortunate issues going on right now at ESPN. It really is quite tragic…

And, unfortunately, quite unsurprising.