Jemele Hill Apologizes For Insensitive Comments (UPDATED)

Monday, June 23, 2008


Hey, it's a race driven kind of day isn't it? Why not just bring it full circle with some thoughts from Jemele Hill on her suspension, Boston Radio Stations, and comparisons to Don Imus. Via an interview she did with MDS over at Fanhouse....

The statement released by ESPN said you were relieved of your duties to reflect on the impact of your words. What have your reflections been like over the last week?
It's been a myriad of emotions. Obviously, I was embarrassed. I was frustrated, and at times a little angry. But I wanted to keep in mind the actual offense and not get caught up in the hoopla that surrounded what was done. That's the part that can send you into negative places and I tried very hard and I think I largely succeeded in staying away from that – I never read anything that was written about me or said about me by various blogs or whatever newspapers might have done it.

The e-mails I received were tough and the only point where I really got mad in terms of the reaction was when that radio station in Boston posted my telephone number and address. That, I thought, was completely out of line.

You were critical of Don Imus. Do you see any similarities between what you wrote and what Imus said, and has this incident led you to reconsider anything you wrote about Imus?
No, I wouldn't reconsider anything that I wrote about Don Imus. I stand behind it. As for the similarities, I'll let people be their own judge. I know some people were putting me in that category and it's certainly their right to do so. I feel differently and I think pulling Imus into this is kind of a distraction. This shouldn't be about whether me and Imus should share the same fate, this should be about my particular insensitivity and not his. I hope this is about me being better as a columnist and as a person.

The Big Lead also reported in October of 2006 that you had signed a two-year contract. Does that mean you might only have a few months left at ESPN?
It was actually November of 2006. Yeah, you're right. It's closer than I thought it was. I'm sure there will be some talking. I usually leave that in the hands of my very capable manager. I try not to think about that. My relationship with ESPN has been very positive and I do not anticipate any contentiousness around that. I have no doubt that will continue.
I don't want to even get into a comparison of our three racial subjects of the day (four if you count Miller over the weekend), but it's good that Hill thinks she erred in making the comparison. It's also very interesting that her contract is up, but as the quote goes, "Any press is good press." Even if the reaction to her column was negative, she's still more than likely to be re-signed by ESPN.

With that said....Can we please stop with all of the racially charged comments in Sports? I don't care if you're Jemele Hill, Don Imus, Johnny Miller, or Joe Schmo. It's so counterproductive, idiotic and just downright tiresome. Enough. Great interview by MDS and you should definitely check out the rest of the questions and responses from Ms. Hill.

Update: Hill has now penned/typed her own apology for ESPN.com. Here's an excerpt....
This isn't about my editors because even if the word "Hitler" never appeared in the posted column last Saturday, that doesn't change the fact that I wrote it and, at the time, found humor in making a moronic comparison between a man who was responsible for killing millions to Detroiters who root for the Boston Celtics.

This is about my living up to a standard I expect of everyone else -- respect, awareness, honesty and accountability.

Rob King, the editor-in-chief of ESPN.com, once said something I've never forgotten. I'm paraphrasing, but if we truly want to see racial progress, you have to be willing to be the dumbest person in the room, a person who can admit to being in need of education.

I wish I'd raised my hand before writing that column last week.

In January, I wrote about Kelly Tilghman, the Golf Channel anchor who was suspended two weeks for joking on the air that young players should "lynch [Tiger Woods] in a back alley." I wrote, "... those who, like Woods, believed this is a 'non-issue' would understand that the word 'lynch' is off-limits to most blacks, just as joking about the Holocaust is off-limits to most Jews."

I got too comfortable with my own knowledge and history of dealing with racial issues. I forgot to ask questions, perhaps subconsciously thinking I knew it all. I've served on numerous diversity panels, and regularly work with the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. I had a this-would-never-happen-to-me attitude, instead of a let-me-make-sure-this-doesn't happen-to-me attitude. I dropped my guard. I got caught up in being cutesy and wrote something stupid.

I let you down.
Apologizing for an error in judgment (ESPN)
FanHouse Interview: Jemele Hill on Her Hitler Comment, Don Imus Criticism and More (Fanhouse)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 4:21 PM

8 Comments:

Those flowers must have told a really hilarious joke.

GMoney said...
Jun 23, 2008, 4:58:00 PM  

I just think she is totally two-faced.

She was the first person to bash the Lebron/GQ cover that made him look like King Kong and the first to bash the Golf Channel host that talked about lynching.

It just seems that she only has an opinion when it comes to anything that is oppressive to african americans. Seems like she needs a history lesson about other races and religions who have been through equally rough times.

sweetbob said...
Jun 23, 2008, 5:43:00 PM  

"Can we please stop with all of the racially charged comments in Sports? "

When you hire people with an axe to grind regarding race, how could you not get stupid shit?

"Seems like she needs a history lesson about other races and religions who have been through equally rough times."

A student WILL NOT get that in the modern University, it is ALL about black people...trust me, the Humanities departments are run by angry people with axes to grind. Hill comes from this arena. I matriculated from MSU, I know what goes on there.

You know there are whiteness studies?

Hollywood Wags said...
Jun 23, 2008, 8:41:00 PM  

I'm choosing to take her at her word, and I believe she is being sincere in her apology. She made a mistake, and fully owned up to it. I have a lot more respect for Hill now than I did before.

=M= said...
Jun 24, 2008, 9:24:00 AM  

She'll do something stupid again, don't worry. Maybe this time those massive, massive layers of editors and fact checkers will catch it.

"I got too comfortable with my own knowledge and history of dealing with racial issues. "

Um, yeah, sure, ok, whatever that means.

hollywood wags said...
Jun 24, 2008, 10:34:00 AM  

Face it, if a white writer made a similar remark. Let's say a 'KKK comparison', they would be canned and never get picked up by the industry again. She got away with one here and I do believe people should be given a second chance. However, she's fortunate the offended group doesn't have loud mouths (cough...Jemele Hill) to create a fire drill out of a stupid comment (IE Don Imus incident).

Doug said...
Jun 24, 2008, 1:38:00 PM  

I'm confused. Gregg Easterbrook made a bad Jewish reference a few years ago and got thrown off the site before you could say "Lower Chesapeake Region Indigenous Persons." You couldn't even read his archives. But Hill refers to Hitler and gets to keep her job? Interesting.

Anonymous said...
Jun 24, 2008, 11:36:00 PM  

She needs to be lynched. End of story.

Jay said...
Jun 25, 2008, 1:38:00 AM  

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