Jemele Hill: Twitter Not Great Place For ‘Nuanced’ Discussion About Race

Jemele Hill

“Twitter wasn’t the place to vent my frustrations,” ESPN show host Jemele Hill acknowledged this morning on ESPN’s web site The Undefeated.

That’s because, Hill wrote, “people can’t or won’t separate who I am on Twitter from the person who co-hosts the 6 PM SportsCenter.”

Earlier this month, Hill became the target of a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he demanded ESPN “apologize for untruth” after Hill tweeted that Trump is a “white supremacist.”

The White House blasted her tweet as a “fireable offense.” ESPN whipped off a statement saying Hill’s tweets do not represent the position of the network, which has talked to Hill, who “recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”

Hill today acknowledged Twitter “isn’t a great place to have nuanced, complicated discussions, especially when it involves race,” adding, “I probably need to take some classes about how to exercise better self-control on Twitter. Lesson learned.”

Sitting in ESPN president John Skipper’s office, in the thick of the White House punch-back, was, she wrote, “the most difficult conversation of my career” and “the first time I had ever cried in a meeting.” Not because Skipper “was mean or rude”  but “because I felt I had let him and my colleagues down.”

Hill wrote about how difficult it has been for her “watching ESPN become a punching bag” in the wake of her tweets, and “seeing a dumb narrative kept alive about the company’s political leanings,” which she said is a “narrative” that “is often pushed by the folks in the media who benefit most from that notion and all the attention that criticism of ESPN brings.”

Hill’s tweets had been posted before Trump’s recent campaign rally, at which he called NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem “son of a bitch” and urged team owners to fire them. That bled into the weekend’s NFL games, in which many more players took a knee, and were booed by some game attendees.

“We’re clearly living in a time of blurred lines,” Hill wrote –  on The Undefeated, not Twitter. “The president’s recent inflammatory attacks on NFL players, his choice to disinvite the Golden State Warriors to the White House, are just the latest examples of silence being impossible. This is not a time for retreating comfortably to a corner.”

The events of last weekend – Hill writes on the web site devoted to exploring the intersection of race, sports and culture – prove “the intersection of sports and politics is the most pronounced we’ve seen in decades. Sports always has been intertwined with social change in America. But let’s not forget some of the athletes who instigated that change — Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph, Muhammad Ali, Curt Flood and Jackie Robinson” – who, she notes, “only became beloved icons once history proved them to be right.”


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