Jemele Hill, host of ESPN’s SportsCenter, sent out a tweet last month calling President Trump a white supremacist, leading to the White House’s request for her firing. Now, just one month later, another problem has surfaced.
Hill was suspended on Monday evening for breaking ESPN’s social media policy. Sunday, she suggested that fans who disagree with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said “players who disrespect the flag will not play for his team,” should simply boycott the advertisers.
“Change happens when advertisers are impacted,” she tweeted. “If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott Cowboy’s advertisers.”
Although she later stressed to the public that she was not calling for a boycott of the NFL, as she was simply trying to shed light on the “unfair burden” placed on players, countless NFL fans still took offense to her statement. Many believe that she is using race-related topics as a stepping stone to boost her career as a journalist.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) wide receiver Dock Luckie voiced his opinion on the matter.
“I think Jemele Hill is brave in what she does with her platform. I honestly don’t think she should have been suspended because if she has the platform to speak on these type of issues, then why should she be limited to what she can or cannot say,” Luckie said.
Mike Jones, a pre-physical therapy student at FAMU, expressed how Hill should have never been suspended, as she was only expressing freedom of speech.
“You have the right to say whatever you want and have your own voice and platform on different topics. She also has the right to sue ESPN because she shouldn’t be (suspended) for using her freedom of speech.” Jones also added, “I applaud her for speaking up, but she might’ve messed up her opportunity being that she is a woman in sports– let alone a black woman in sports at that.”
Jones’ comments on Hill claiming she should sue could be a common opinion between Hill’s supporters, but FAMU communication law professor, Leah Hunter, believes that it might not be as simple as that.
“I don’t believe Hill would sue ESPN,” Hunter said. “I believe that something in her contract would prevent her from being able to sue.”
In response to Hill being suspended, Michael Smith, who co-hosts with Hill and is also African-American, did not appear on Monday night’s SportsCenter, as Matt Barrie hosted by himself.
Some people criticize Smith, saying that he never publicly backs Hill during controversy.
Smith later responded to some of his critics, tweeting, “I get the sense that you aren’t familiar with my body of work or the principles upon which I stand, or just the grand scheme… Are you aware of how I get down?”
It seems as though Smith has already taken a stand for Hill, as he has already made it known that he will not be returning to SportsCenter until she is reinstated.