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Jemele faces up-Hill battle

Kimberly Stelly, kstelly@lmcexperience.com

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ESPN Sports Commentator Jemele Hill caught hell just a few weeks ago for calling Donald Trump a White Supremacist in a series of tweets.

She said in one of her tweets “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.” It wasn’t long before she was reprimanded for her commentary. However, no consequential actions were taken. Hill continued to voice her thoughts on the state of the presidency. After all, all Hill did was call a supremacist, a supremacist.

This week after Dallas Cowboys Coach Jerry Jones said he’d bench any player protesting the National Anthem, she tweeted suggesting people who take issue with this, boycott the Cowboys’ advertisers.

She was promptly suspended “for a second violation of social media guidelines” according to a statement put out by the network.

For those who were offended by the fact that she hadn’t been suspended before this for her statements about Donald Trump, what to complain about now?

Well people are continuing to question her ability to do her job “properly.”

Hill’s ethics have been called into question. She’s a journalist, shouldn’t she be objective? Sure, in most cases but even that’s a shoddy reason to question her journalistic integrity.

She’s a journalist for ESPN — a network known for its reporting of sports-related news and commentary. She regularly gives her opinion on that network. Why is it an issue when politics isn’t even the main focus of the network?

One of the beautiful things about journalism is the many avenues in which you can bring into it. Most of it is through objective news reporting regardless of what your specific genre of reporting is, whether it be sports, music or otherwise.

But there’s also the avenue of which you’re allowed to have biases and that’s through opinion writing.

Other writers from other publications do this all the time. And though it’s written into her contract to not speak “on behalf of the network,” that’s just it — she didn’t. The official statement from ESPN released mid-September, said “Jamele has a right to her personal opinions” as long as she doesn’t paint the network in a negative light. But why are they so scared of what she has to say?

Though it may be but a short series of tweets, Hill was only exercising her right as both a journalist and United States citizen to criticize 45 and his administration. And for this most recent incident, surely she has the right to tweet about methods of protest. If the network takes issue with her opinions on the matter, it says far more about them than it does about her.

It says they are scared of political discourse even though they claim to be an inclusive corporation.

As for people taking issue with the context of her statements, Jemele Hill is a black woman first come. This comes before her identity as a journalist or as an employee of ESPN. She doesn’t have the privilege of being able to separate her racial identity from her professional one all the time. If she’s suggesting protests or calling out politicians for rising in power through harmful social institutions, you can bet for damn sure, she isn’t doing it to incite the wrath of her employers or audience.

ESPN Anchor Mike Ditka has also spoken up about his take on race relations in the United States. He claims he hasn’t seen oppression in the U.S. in 100 years.

Dude. You were 25 years-old when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. What do you mean you haven’t seen oppression?

And it’s statements like this that prompt people like Jemele Hill to speak up for what she believes in. ESPN commentator or not, she has the right to say what she wants and not have it be misconstrued as “negatively representing the views of the network.”

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Jemele faces up-Hill battle