When discussing Jemele Hill, even a person with the strongest of opinions could possibly end up flabbergasted. If you’re not aware of who Jemele is and what has transpired within the last few weeks, let me catch you up.
Jemele Hill is a Black, female sports anchor that was suspended from her show “His & Hers” on ESPN following a Twitter rant where she called Trump a white supremacist in light of his response to athletes taking a knee to not only support Colin Kaepernick, but to pay homage to all of the Black men we’ve lost to police brutality While she was suspended athletes, fellow anchors, and the general public stood behind her in absolute solidarity. Petitions were signed and the outcry for her to keep her job and freedom of speech were plentiful. And it worked…she wasn’t fired.
Before you applaud, keep reading. Upon returning to work Jemele made a statement that raised some eyebrows and caused yet another ripple through social media. Following her 2-week suspension, this was what Jemele had to say:
“ESPN acted what they felt was right. I don’t have any argument,” Hill told TMZ Sports. “After my Donald Trump tweets, I deserved a suspension.”
She continued, “I violated the policy. Going forward we’ll be in a good, healthy place.”
You could have rewound the time back to when Trump was announced as President because it’s quite possible the shock mirrored.
However, she did violate the policy, if you’re referring to ESPN’s new social media guidelines, which were released on Nov. 2.
Making it clear that they want to keep their employees mum when it comes to controversial issues, ESPN’s new social media policy states that, “Communication with producers and editors must take place prior to commentary on any political or social issues to manage volume and ensure a fair and effective presentation.”
If the President of the FREE WORLD can call athletes taking a knee to boycott an anthem that was sang as their ancestors were lynched “son of b*tches” without any qualms or reprimands and still get to keep his prestigious job, we should all get a free pas, right? Not quite. Jemele called him on it, like 50-11 other people across the country, and consequently put her job was jeopardy. Which brings me to the burning question at hand: Was Jemele justified for her “I deserved a suspension” statement or was she simply acknowledging that she failed to comply with the company’s policy and deserved the consequences? And should she have made that statement at all?
I called on our sisters to help answer the burning questions.
“I was disappointed that Jemele apologized. I already feel like women say “I’m Sorry” too much in the workplace. Jemele is an African American woman working in sports journalism, a field that is in dire need of more female representation. Her voice and opinions need to be heard. At this point, I imagine that Jemele can empathize with Colin Kaepernick. Does she censor her opinions so she can keep her job? Or, does she let her passion lead her? I’ll leave that decision to Jemele. My only hope is that she doesn’t lose her spark. We need to see women going against the grain and standing up for what they believe in.”
“I feel it’s unfortunate that you can’t express how you feel on a public platform without some form of consequences or repercussions. Jemele’s standpoint stemmed from an African American woman being tired and frustrated of what is happening to our fellow brothers and sisters. However, she has to remain professional and separate her opinions and feelings. It’s important we continue to use platforms such as social media to get our voices out there, but we must remember to remain cautious if it is at the cost of our careers and reputations.”
“It`s sad to hear a woman could be on the verge of losing her job or suspended publicly over having an opinion, just like the rest of America on our current president. It also saddens me that after her actions she felt the need to apologize for something she did via Twitter. I feel strongly about having a voice because no matter if it’s positive or negative, I learned our true leaders fought for this country so that we can speak up and say what we feel. We should let others speak freely, like our President can.”
“Regardless of how we personally feel, especially in a world that sees black and white, it seems we have to play the field on how we respond to social injustice. If it was intentional, in which I strongly believe it was, she shouldn’t have stated that she deserved the suspension. It’s her platform but she doesn’t run the company nor make the company rules & guidelines. Instead, just offer an apology for her openness on the situation in a more conservative environment.”
“I believe that Jamele Hill was right for posting tweets calling Trump a white supremacist following the athletes taking a knee. I believe in freedom of speech and that’s exactly what Hill was displaying. She is a sports anchor; her discussing Trump being against athletes taking a knee is sports related. She should’ve left the “I deserve suspension” statement out because so many people supported her after her Twitter rant. I believe once you make a statement you need to back it up 100%, especially when your statement is all over the news causing controversy and getting other people get involved.”
“Considering the never-ending Twitter rants by the POTUS, Jemele Hill’s Twitter rant was justified and tactful. She took a stand by addressing the issue knowing that she could be reprimanded by suspension. I do believe she knew that could be a possibility but she did it anyway. Her decision to apologize for it seems less genuine and forced because of the suspension. She’s not sorry and she shouldn’t be for exercising her freedom of speech. However, realizing her livelihood could be in question because of what she said scared her and that’s understandable.”
“Hill is acknowledging that she made a mistake violating the policy knowing what her contract entails. Now was Hill telling the truth about Trump being a white supremacist and the most offensive president of our lifetime? Yes, she was. Freedom of speech is given to Mr. Trump and Hill, so what is wrong in standing up for what you believe is right? When and where exactly is it a good time to protest against the unjust? Hill is using the platform and the tools given to her as a news anchor. She was speaking for the football players that are placed in a tough situation. Players now have to choose whether to provide for their family or endure like Collin Kaepernick. This protest started against police brutality, how the heck did it become about the flag?”
There you have it: Multiple African American women, all journalists, weighing in on a subject that hits us close to home.
When faced with situations like this I’m always reminded of some of the greats like Rosa Park and Martin Luther King Jr and I’m left with this question: If they cared about corporate policies and coins more than what’s right and the betterment of our race, where exactly would we be today?
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Written By: Tina Red