Hey, Spike? Mizzou? ESPN? Explain This Diversity Thing Again; I’m Confused…

Head of The Undefeated, Kevin Merida, whose race had nothing to do with his hiring, and how dare you even ask such a question?

Head of The Undefeated, Kevin Merida, whose race had nothing to do with his hiring, and how dare you even ask such a question?

“The Undefeated” website finally debuted this in January, ESPN’s foray into issues of sports and race.

John Skipper, the president of ESPN, gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal that contained this fascinating quote:

At the Undefeated, the play is about content. If you do a time-lapse of the last two or three years in sports, you’d see more stories pop to the top about race and sports than anything. It is an important area to explore. There is a business reason: among our most important consumers are African-Americans. There is not right now a go-to site for black fans, other than just ESPN sites. [The Undefeated] will be a black-run and black-staffed site.”

Excuse me if I’m being dense, but wouldn’t maintaining a “black-run and black-staffed site” require discriminating against qualified white applicants? Isn’t that illegal? Why are  black writers especially qualified to write about race in sports? This isn’t the Supremes or the Harlem Globetrotters, after all, it’s a website. From whence comes the presumption that blacks are more qualified to write about the topic than whites? This sounds like racism to me. What about diversity, that marvelous, uplifting, just condition that justifies ignoring merit and objectivity in order to reach statistical parity with demographic distributions? Of does diversity only matter if non-white citizens don’t win awards, get admitted or get hired?

Okay, I’m not really confused. The hiring policy articulated by ESPN’s chief is discriminatory, racist, and is such a double standard that it belongs in the dictionary under “double standard.” Note also that the Wall Street Journal interviewer didn’t so much as blink at this admission.

I’d love to hear Spike Lee’s defense of Skipper’s statement, as well as that of the campus leaders in the various diversity uprisings, and of course, Bernie and Hillary. I’m sure they would be able to clear everything up.

_______________________

Pointer: Future of Capitalism

 

37 thoughts on “Hey, Spike? Mizzou? ESPN? Explain This Diversity Thing Again; I’m Confused…

  1. Do I have to provide a genetic map if I care to check out the site?

    I can understand targeting for a certain audience and my assumption is that is the defense. I can also understand that Black journalist/media types may have a different perspective than their White counterparts. I also notice that there happen to be Black journalist and media types that work in conjunction with their White counterparts. Just as there are women who cover men’s sports and even a Gay writer or two. Would not that apply to this new site? Seems that it is Racial exclusion – 1 and Diversity – 0.

  2. Jack,

    I don’t believe something can be labelled racist simply for being discriminatory — especially by a private organization. If ESPN wants a “black only” sports news platform, so what? Perhaps there’s a huge market for it. Perhaps many African-Americans feel more comfortable getting their sports updates from black reporters. If so, then ESPN should be lauded for understanding their marketing demographics. Isn’t that just supply and demand?

    “From whence comes the presumption that blacks are more qualified to write about the topic than whites”

    Granted, I haven’t read all the literature and press associated with the launch of “Undefeated,” but I’m not sure there is such a presumption, only that black reporters and writers are more likely to have a perspective that’s easily relate-able to the audience they’re trying to target. I understand that a “white only” organization with the same agenda would be called out as racist, but that only illustrates an unfair double-standard; it doesn’t invalidate their right to hire whoever they choose in order to reach a target demographic. How is this different than Telemundo hiring only Spanish-speakers?

    To contend racism here strikes me as similar to the argument that the Boy Scouts of America are discriminatory (one of Gloria Alred’s big causes) for not allowing women, that churches discriminate against atheists when hiring ministers, or that minimum education standards discriminate against the uneducated. If an organization calls itself “black-run and black staffed” then, by definition, there can’t be an qualified white candidates since they fall outside the organization’s mission statement.

    Or I’m missing something (which I could be).

    Sincerely,
    Neil

    • Discrimination is distinct from racism. However, discrimination based on a presumption that an individual of one race is less capable of doing a job than an individual of another race is racism by definition. From a marketing standpoint, the preference of hiring a black host of a show on BET is a matter of marketing and audience appeal, though I dare you to explain why an airline isn’t allowed to hire gorgeous women and men in their 20s for flight attendant jobs, for the same reason: customers like looking at them.

      All-black just isn’t any more of a legitimate mission than “whites only,” and if that “mission” is based on a presumption that one race can do a job better because of their color, that’s racist.

      • Jack,
        If that is the assumption. But no where in the literature posted nor anything else I’ve read has anyone made the claim that they’re more qualified, rather they’re of the same demographic as the audience they’re courting.

        “… though I dare you to explain why an airline isn’t allowed to hire gorgeous women and men in their 20s for flight attendant jobs, for the same reason: customers like looking at them.”

        I agree, but that just goes back to my earlier point about there being an unfair double standard. This is no different than the Pizza place/homosexuality fiasco. Private companies and broadcasters have (or should have) the right to hire (and serve) whoever they want for whatever reason. It sucks we live in a world where “blacks only” discrimination is understood, while other kinds aren’t, but it doesn’t make it unfair for a group to exercise that right just because others can’t.

        “… any more of a legitimate mission ,,,”
        Who decides what counts as “legitimate” in this context? Besides, what if it was a “blacks only” health club that meant to specifically raise awareness of sickle-cell anemia — still illegitimate? The whole point to freedom of association (and, by extension, the freedom to hire whoever you want) is that there need not be reasons at all other than “because I said so.” Moreover, if market research tells them that a majority of their viewers are black, and if black audiences feel more comfortable with black presenters and newscasters, then ESPN is acting like every other media organization by catering to their patrons.

        • That would be the basis of a racist argument against voting for Barack Obama, or hiring just white professors at Harvard, or having an all-white squad for the Boston Red Sox.

          Which comes down to a double standard. We can’t let that logic reign because it unfairly favors a majority. If we can’t let the logic reign, we can’t let it operate when it DOESN’T favor the majority either. Hence “double standard”—which is inherently unethical.

  3. ::Black Writer has an article published on ESPN::
    Likely result:

    Why am I reading the writings of a black writer? This isn’t the place for them! Send them back to The Undefeated!

    ——

    I thought segregation was bad? Will “The Undefeated” poach the best black talent in the industry and segregate them from the best sources? Or will they focus on being the “minor leagues” and simply an amateurish avenue to provide more development opportunity?

  4. Hmm, isn’t the President of ESPN, who made the statement, white? Wouldn’t this be racist against black people, forcibly segregating them to their own corner of the network?

    How exactly is the white President being racist against his fellow whites? By only allowing them to be active only on the other vast reaches of ESPN, where, apparently, most of the black media journalists cannot go (at least in any sort of numbers where black viewers feel as if they have a voice)? Was the main problem with Jim Crow that white people could not drink out of the ‘colored’ water fountains?

    • Racism is defined by the attitude, not the person holding it. I’ll never forget the elderly black cabbie who lectured me on how DC’s problems could be solved by letting white folks run the city, because blacks weren’t up to the job.

      • Sure, there can be internalized racism. Not sure if that is the case here. I don’t have a problem with targeted market segmentation, and I don’t have a problem with those from that particular market being targeted being the ones in charge and providing the content…so I’m talking myself into the statement again.

        Hmmm, if The Country Channel said that we are targeting white males between the ages of 27-34, from rural areas, and said it will be run and staffed with those people that fit that criteria or Univision said the same with Spanish speakers, I don’t think I would have a problem with that. Though I’m pretty sure it’s illegal, you instead could probably have a requirement that an applicant be a native Spanish speaker, or have a deep first-hand familiarity with African-American culture, or with country music/rural America.

        • God, do you spin. Spanish-speaking is a skill. Color is irrelevant, except in narrow, specific settings, and this isn’t one. White writers are every bit as qualified to write about race as black writers.

          FACT: any time a job or a position is filled by color rather than ability, it is discrimination, and presumptively racist.

          • “I don’t have a problem with targeted market segmentation”-–sure you do. This hospital doesn’t hire black doctors because our rich white patrons prefer white ones. That’s fine with you, is it?

            • don’t have a problem with targeted market segmentation”-–sure you do. This hospital doesn’t hire black doctors because our rich white patrons prefer white ones. That’s fine with you, is it?

              I was thinking mostly in the entertainment field, where such preferences do materially change what is offered. You yourself have said before that you are completely puzzled by many black audience preferences. A black or white doctor should offer you the same basic services (in theory ) as anyone else.

              God, do you spin. Spanish-speaking is a skill. Color is irrelevant, except in narrow, specific settings, and this isn’t one. White writers are every bit as qualified to write about race as black writers.

              I think white writers are as qualified to write about race as black writers, and they do. Which brings me around to the problem I had with his statement originally. Minority writers are often “Othered”, with racial issues somehow “belonging” to minority writers, who have the unfair expectation put upon them of having to write about racial issues, whether that is their primary concern or not. A white writer can write about racial issues, or not, without being thrown into his whole separate network, or having to avoid it altogether.

              But if you are designing a website specifically to appeal to African-American males ages 18-49, then yes, you are certainly going to want to hire the bulk of the people that fit that demographic. Otherwise, how does it differ in tone and content from regular ESPN.com?

                • The topic is the reason for the website, not the demographic. I see little about the site as constituted that screams “young black men” to me.

                  I think it is the other way around. He is specifically trying to appeal to African-American males, and using race/sports stories as one of the “hooks” to draw them in.

                  …you’d see more stories pop to the top about race and sports than anything. It is an important area to explore. There is a business reason: among our most important consumers are African-Americans. There is not right now a go-to site for black fans, other than just ESPN sites.

          • Jack,
            “Color is irrelevant”
            It isn’t to some people. There are lots of African-Americans who feel more comfortable watching programs that seem to represent their demographic. Is it silly? Perhaps, but it’s also their choice (consumers need not have good reasons for their preferences). And meanwhile, it doesn’t make an media organization racist for catering to it .

            “White writers are every bit as qualified to write about race as black writers.”
            You keep harping on the issue of qualified vs. unqualified as though it’s the central issue. I don’t think anyone at ESPN is arguing they’re more qualified, only that the match an image. As far as societal race-baiting goes, this has more to do with advertising than creating division.

            Finally, while the color of one’s skin doesn’t make one more qualified to talk on a particular subject. However, if the color of one’s skin is central to the issue at hand, it does nonetheless give them a unique insight on said topic. Would you rather read a piece “What’s it’s like Growing up Black in the Deep South” by a black or white author? I’m not suggesting the black writer would be more eloquent or insightful, but (s)he would nonetheless have more to say on the matter.

            Sincerely,
            Neil

            • You know, Neil, I think it’s pretty obvious that when I write things like “color is irrelevant,” it’s meaning is to ne taken in the context of the essay, as in, “color is irrelevant to hiring web writers, whose faces can’t be seen anyway.” No, color is not irrelevant to the people who carry that color, nor cosmetics specialists, nor oil painters. Do you really think that needs to be pointed out? And of course, color isn’t irrelevant to racists, but I’ discussing facts, not bias. It IS irrelevant to hiring writers.

  5. All of you are missing the point (and I capitalize here because I am shouting): IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO DISCRIMINATE IN HIRING BY RACE! Got that: against the law. If you are qualified for a job, you have as much chance as any other to get it — and race cannot be a qualifier! Go on-line and find out. I can’t believe that all the civil rights laws enacted since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have been lost on you all. Laws to protect minorities: have we really turned so completely around that blacks can now discriminate against whites in hiring,and brag about it? My head is about to explode.

    Of course the Obama justice department will not take ESPN to task on this. As we all know, they enforce laws as capriciously as a Kardashian picks shoes…

  6. ” but wouldn’t maintaining a “black-run and black-staffed site” require discriminating against qualified white applicants?”

    Of course not. People are applying to work at ESPN the parent company. It’s not as if the people working on this website won’t have offices literally right next to white people working on the other ESPN websites.

    An equivalent would be partitioning a chemical factory into multiple departments and then saying that women can’t work in the department that deals with teratogens (due to the fact that women can conceivably become pregnant). As long as women can be employed in other departments of the company, and as long as being employed in the teratogen department is not a contingent factor in promotions, every thing is both legal and ethical.

    Do you have something against the right to affiliate (or the corporate equivalent of pandering/selling to particular affiliations)? If corporations are “people”, then to a minimum extent this right belongs to them.

    The only real question I have is whether trans-race people (not a joke) would be allowed to work on the website.

    • An even closer parallel would be a “women’s interests” section in a magazine or newspaper, where one of the women writer’s for that mag maintains an editorial on women’s issues.

      Is it unfair that male writers for the mag aren’t allowed to contribute to the column or section? No. They have plenty of other space for their columns. And they’re free (if editors allow) to talk about women’s issues in those spaces.

      • Jesus. How the pendulum swings. I know that Jim Crow and Separate but Equal were creations of the left… But after the collapse of the institutions, who’d have thought that a couple of generations later, the left would be back full force pushing segregation? And never mind just race this time. Gender! And religion! Double down and see how that works out for you long term.

    • And while I didn’t read anything other than what you posted above, I see absolutely no statement which says that people who are not already employed by ESPN will be hired for this project.

      If no one will be hired (who otherwise wouldn’t be hired), your entire argument has no standing.

    • This is a great contender for the stupidest thing I’ve read this year.

      If you have a job opening in the Darkey Department*, and only the Darkey Department, you aren’t going to hire Whitey, nomatter how many of them apply to the parent company.

      *This situation seethes racism, and in trying to write this comment, I gave up trying to coach it respectfully, if people are going to degrade themselves like this, I can’t save them from themselves.

    • And while I’m at it….

      “An equivalent would be partitioning a chemical factory into multiple departments and then saying that women can’t work in the department that deals with teratogens (due to the fact that women can conceivably become pregnant). As long as women can be employed in other departments of the company, and as long as being employed in the teratogen department is not a contingent factor in promotions, every thing is both legal and ethical.”

      Is some of the worst HR advice I’ve ever seen. It is illegal to discriminate against women in hiring for any position. If you did this, you would be sued. The only reason you can discriminate against protected classes are for bona fide job requirements (most usually used to discriminate against disabled people who can’t do things like climb a ladder.) The mere possibility of pregnancy does not constitute a bona fide inability to work. The employee would be advised of the risks, regardless of their gender, and most probably be allowed medical leave in the event of a pregnancy.

      And

      “Do you have something against the right to affiliate (or the corporate equivalent of pandering/selling to particular affiliations)? If corporations are “people”, then to a minimum extent this right belongs to them.”

      Do you have something against thinking? People have the right to affiliation (assembly) but that doesn’t make every affiliation right. Could you imagine a club the was say… all white… and didn’t think very highly about people that weren’t white? Gee. What would we call that?

      Finally:

      “The only real question I have is whether trans-race people (not a joke) would be allowed to work on the website.”

      I think the only appropriate response for something like this is about 46 seconds of uncontrollable laughter. Thank you.

    • I’m sorry, did I give the unintentional impression that this was a “Ridiculous Spin” contest?

      One cannot have a policy-dictated “black-staffed” site, department, college or business. It is against the law. it is also racist. There are narrow exceptions, but a website can’t possibly be one of them.

      Stop insulting everyone’s intelligence.

    • You display appalling ignorance by making the “if corporations are people” comment. No court, anywhere, has ruled that corporations are “people.” Courts have ruled, and correctly, that organizations of people have certain rights similar to persons. Corporate personhood allows companies to hold property, enter contracts, and to sue and be sued just like a human being. But of course some human rights make no sense for a corporation, like the right to marry, to parent a child, or to vote. Corporations enjoy Fourth Amendment safeguards against unreasonable regulatory searches, but do not have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The acknowledgement of these rights are essential to ensure equal protection and due process, so the government can not, for example, just steal and take over any business it think is profitable, or tax out of business any company it doesn’t like. The person language was a metaphor and a good one, for anyone not so intellectually dishonest or dumb to misinterpret it.

      Citizens United did not grant corporations personhood, they already had it. Corporations can’t exist without these basic rights. Stop mouthing intentionally misleading leftist bumper stickers.

      • Ok. We’ll see what happens.

        Some of what I wrote was arguing as the devil’s advocate, but every company that hires based on generalized credentials (H.S. Diploma, College degree) is already spitting on Griggs v. Duke Power. I don’t see how this is more serious than that.

        And given the size of ESPN (about 7500 employees), I still would be surprised if they couldn’t launch this site with staff-on-hand.

      • I had a short time before leaving work to write what I originally wrote. And as a non-verbal person it takes time to effectively formulate my thoughts into words. Here’s the philosophical background:

        1) People who feel wronged for whatever reasons often feel better when grouping together (misery loves company), or when pandered to as a group. This can have pernicious effects, but it can also have empowering effects. I do not know even close to enough sociology to even make a stab at parsing the healing vs. harm (to black americans) of this act by ESPN. But I do not automatically see it as harmful. This is a moral ambivalence on my part, not an ethical ambivalence.

        2) Two wrongs don’t make a right. But actions aren’t simply wrongs or rights. They have multiple effects which are often both wrong and right.

        No. I’m not for employment discrimination based on anything except an ability to do the job (or preferably an ability to learn how to do the job – companies and others have in recent decades failed in their duty to train employees. In law just witness the incredibly few people who take the bar after having taken an apprenticeship.).

        I do not know whether ESPNs employment of black individuals equitably represents the black population in the US. If, based on another hiring bias, it does not, then while this new website of theirs wouldn’t undo that harm, it might ameliorate it.

        I’m not for that either. I’d prefer those making employment decisions take the stick our of their *** and spend some of the ample resources otherwise going to pump up stock prices (share buybacks) and paying dividends from borrowed money (if you’re outlaying 150% of profits in the form of buybacks and dividends then dividends are being paid from borrowed money no matter how you cook the books), on removing hiring biases by having a genuinely robust (based on who is hired and who is not – both ends) and non-prejudicially-discriminatory-in-all-ways hiring scheme.

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