Perhaps Jemele Hill’s only infraction was pontificating about politics on Twitter.
The outspoken ESPN host shared her truth about President Donald Trump on social media, which led to the White House calling for Hill to be fired.
“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
Hill shouldn’t be terminated for her remarks and here’s why: Her comments were rooted in facts which Trump initiated, her thinking is sound, and she has the absolute right to free speech.
Hill, who serves as co-host of SC6, on ESPN, referred to Trump as a “white supremacist” and a “bigot” and she was not speaking for ESPN, she was expressing her opinion as an American citizen.
On Monday night, in a series of tweets, Hill said, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”
Hill added that, “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”
In another tweet, she said, “Donald Trump is a bigot,” and went on to criticize his supporters, adding, “The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you. Well, it’s a threat to me.”
Trump created this mess by publicly sympathizing with white supremacists after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12 when Heather Heyer was run down by Hitler supporter James Alex Fields, 20, who was charged with second degree murder.
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Trump told reporters last month. “Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”
It took Trump days to denounce violent neo-Nazis but afterward, he seemed to reverse himself by siding with white supremacists and appearing to align himself with bigots when he called white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally “fine people.”
And Thursday, in response to a meeting between Trump and Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) Trump again defended his earlier comments about the Charlottesville violence.
“Look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump might have a point.’ I said, ‘You’ve got some very bad people on the other side also,’ which is true,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Hill was simply expressing what many Americans were already saying about Trump – that the president marginalized African-Americans and other people of color while giving white supremacists a pass.
“My comments on Twitter expressed my personal beliefs. My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light. My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional,” Hill said in her statement.
Notice that Hill did not offer an apology, nor should she.
And here’s ESPN’s reaction: “The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”
ESPN has since denied reports that it tried to remove Hill from the air after the White House comments.
The National Association of Black Journalists said in a statement that it “supports Hill’s First Amendment rights on all matters of discussion, within and outside the world of sports, as they do not impinge on her duties as a host and commentator.”
ESPN sports commentator Michael Wilbon offered his support for Hill and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick also expressed his encouragement, tweeting: “We are with you @jemelehill.”
Kaepernick, who remains unsigned after leaving with the San Francisco 49ers, received support and criticism after kneeling during the national anthem before games last season to protest police brutality and injustices in the criminal justice system.
The NFL — wrongly – is boycotting Kaepernick, no doubt because of his public stance against racial profiling and excessive use of force by police against African-Americans and other people of color. More NFL players are correctly supporting Kaepernick, a talented quarterback, saying an NFL team should employ Kaepernick this season.
Meanwhile, Hill has weighed into a firestorm created by Trump. If the president hadn’t empathized with white supremacists, there wouldn’t be an issue. ESPN apparently reprimanded Hill and folks should move on.
The thin-skinned White House didn’t like Hill’s comments about Trump but in this intensified racially polarized republic, Hill remains free to speak her truth.
What do you think?
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