ESPN Has a Really Hard Time Talking About Race
In the latest of its problems with sports and race on TV, ESPN has suspended commentator Rob Parker for calling Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III a "cornball brother."
In the latest of its problems with sports and race on TV, ESPN has suspended commentator Rob Parker for calling Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III a "cornball brother." Here's the official word of Parker's suspension from an ESPN PR rep:
Update: "Following yesterday’s comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice. We are conducting a full review."— Josh Krulewitz (@jksports) December 14, 2012
The review will no doubt include examining Parker's comments during Thursday's episode of First Take (video below) when Parker asked his other commentators this: "My question, which is just a straight honest question: is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?" Parker was referring to an interview where RGIII said he didn't want to be defined by his race. Parker said:
Well, [that] he's black, he kind of does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause, he's not one of us ... He's kind of black, but he's not really the guy you'd really want to hang out with, because he's off to do something else.
I want to find about him. I don't know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about he's a Republican, which there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, 'I've got black skin, but don't call me black.' So people wondered about Tiger Woods...
Because of that Republican-and-white-fiancé comment, Breitbart and Drudge are sort of leading the charge on the right-wing reaction and villainizing/race-baiting Parker:
And here's Drudge's RGIII corner:
But one of the smartest takes on this whole thing, and not just because he's over at our sister site, is Ta-Nehisi Coates's angle on why the journalist and future journalists asking RGIII these questions needs to be more responsible:
Whatever First Take does, actual reporters should stop asking the question. It's embarrassing and demeaning. For them. For Griffin it's a trap. If he declines to talk about race than that is evidence of "distancing." If he talks about it, he will eventually say something that will leave him subject to the rantings of someone like Parker.