29 Jul This Is Bigger Than Ray Rice and Stephen A. Smith
He said all the right words. He looked contrite in all the right places. His word were prepared very carefully and he takes ownership. He even personalized it (I had correctly guessed from his original comments that he had some form of bystander trauma to domestic violence). Still, the apology lacks the passion of the offensive comments. What comes to mind is that because Smith’s comments were in response to a Black perpetrator and Black female victim, he is far more likely to get a pass. Social constructions of Black women are such that it becomes easy to imagine us “provoking” a man to violence. Had Smith’s comments been spoken after a white female had been victimized, the network would have issued some form of penalty, there would have been calls for his resignation. Had he been a white male making similar statements about Blacks provoking whites to be violent, there would have been demands that he be fired. The irony there. Smith argued that Rice’s punishment was not severe while his own actions failed to merit disciplinary action. Smith’s comments were harmful to all victims and potential victims of domestic violence and especially victims of color. Even more harmful is the institutional sanctioning of violence against women by first the NFL and now ESPN. But after all that, people will still patronize both so can we really blame them for business as usual?