• Trump Spokeswoman: ESPN Host Should Be Fired
  • 800 Invited Guests Pay Tribute to Jim Vance
  • Omarosa Reportedly Isolated in White House
  • Photographers of Color Let Editors Know They Exist
  • Nina Garcia Named Editor of Elle Magazine
  • Columnist Says ‘NFL Doesn’t Respect Humanity’
  • Mike Hodge Dies, Activist on TV, in Newsroom
  • Lowery Book on Police Relations Optioned as Drama
Jemele Hill via Twitter

Trump Spokeswoman: ESPN Host Should Be Fired

Jemele Hill apologized Wednesday night for her tweets calling President Trump a white supremacist — not that she does not believe that, but because, she said, “my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light.”

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A few minutes later, the sports network responded. “Jemele has a right to her personal opinions, but not to publicly share them on a platform that implies that she was in any way speaking on behalf of ESPN. She has acknowledged that her tweets crossed that line and has apologized for doing so. We accept her apology.”

The contrition followed 48 hours in which White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the “SportsCenter” co-host should be fired, the National Association of Black Journalists stood by Hill’s free-speech rights, and others debated the role of ESPN in the media universe, Trump’s stance toward African Americans, particularly black women, the meaning of “white supremacy” and how the reaction to Hill compared with that accorded others who made controversial statements.

As reproduced Wednesday by David Mack of BuzzFeed, Hill’s since-deleted Monday night tweets included, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists” and “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”

Asked about that in the White House briefing room Wednesday, Sanders said, “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.”

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Sanders’ comments were immediately denounced by journalists, who said Sanders had crossed a line. The White House publicly calling for the firing of a private citizen for expressing her views? Other presidents have complained about reporters in private, but not at a news conference.

It became yet another threshold crossed by the Trump presidency.

As Pete Vernon wrote Thursday in his Columbia Journalism Review newsletter, “Though questions about what journalists can and should say on their personal social media feeds didn’t begin with Trump, his rise — and the politicization of nearly all aspects of American culture — have forced the issue. Politico’s managing editor recently waded into this larger controversy when he told staffers that the company discards ‘dozens’ of job applications over inappropriate or partisan tweets.

Vernon added, “Hill is hardly the first media figure to associate Trump with white supremacy. Last month, both The New Yorker and The Economist featured covers depicting the president and the white hood of the Ku Klux Klan. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote that Trump’s ‘ideology is white supremacy’ in last week’s widely read Atlantic story.

“So why did Hill’s comments become an issue worthy of an official response from the lectern? In part, because conservative media figures like sentient hot-take Clay Travis and perpetually confused Tucker Carlson made it one. Some journalists suggested Sanders’s response was a deliberate attempt by the administration to distract from bigger issues. . . .”

That Hill is a black woman did not escape Brittney Cooper, associate professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University. Cooper noted on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” Wednesday that the Trump White House has also disparaged reporter April Ryan and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., other black women.

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Has Trump embraced white supremacy? “There is something Donald Trump did to get into office that we haven’t seen in 150 years,” Cooper said. “Where did she lie?” Jason Johnson, theRoot.com’s political editor who joined Cooper in the segment, asked about Hill.

The accuracy of Hill’s statements and the fear that racism is being even more normalized were enough for many African Americans to support Hill.

Our society abounds with white people who are more likely to be disturbed at being called racist than they are to be disturbed by racism,” Jarvis DeBerry wrote for NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune. “Consequently, people will condemn Hill without even pausing to consider the accuracy of her allegation.”

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Moreover, some don’t view the meaning of the words “white supremacy” as static. Washington journalist John McQuaid argued on Facebook that “The commonly-accepted meaning used to refer to people espousing an explicit ‘whites are superior’ ideology –David Duke, et al. But thanks in part to Ta-Nehisi Coates, a broader definition has gained currency – the structure of white privilege embedded (often non-explicitly or unconsciously) in institutions and attitudes.

“Is Trump promoting this type of white supremacy? Arguably, yes. But the term is still charged and many/most white people (in particular) are going to equate it saying ‘you are another David Duke.’”

Andy Borowitz, satirist for the New Yorker magazine, said Trump wouldn’t qualify in any case. “Upbraiding the ESPN anchor Jemele Hill for calling Donald Trump a ‘white supremacist,’ the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Wednesday that “no one has done more than President Trump to prove that white people are not superior,’ ” Borowitz wrote.

Still, Hill’s tweets were red meat for right-wingers who love to hate on ESPN — and Hill.

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On blacksportsonline.com Tuesday, Robert Littal compiled “A Collection of Tweets Just From Today of Trump Supporters Calling Jemele Hill a Nigger.”

Hill is a former columnist at the Orlando Sentinel. “SportsCenter” is an opinion show. In the debate over Hill’s tweets, some confused the obligations of straight-news reporters with those of commentators, even though they correctly noted that comments on social media and on the air might be subject to different standards.

Kevin Draper wrote Wednesday in the New York Times, “The network has reoriented its programming more toward opinion and debate, encouraging some hosts to veer away from sports. Hill’s ‘SportsCenter’ often mixes sports with social and cultural topics. Hill, who is black, and her co-host, Michael Smith, who is also black, frequently discuss black culture — uncommon for an ESPN show.

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“ESPN is hardly without conservative representation. Hill’s tweets were posted about an hour before the second broadcast of ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ doubleheader. The analyst for that game was Rex Ryan, who introduced President Trump at a rally last year. The show’s anthem was sung by Hank Williams Jr., a conservative who was once dropped by ESPN for comparing President Obama to Hitler. . . .”ESPN’s mixing of sports and politics is not going to change anytime soon, Jim Brady, ESPN’s public editor, wrote in April.

There is no denying that culture, sports and politics are fused together more today than at any time in recent memory, and there’s an argument to be made that ESPN is rightfully taking advantage of that trend. But there’s also no denying the presence of a fervent fan base that prefers the ESPN of old, meaning these worlds will continue to collide,” Brady wrote.

“One thing is clear: Those of you who have not held your tongue about ESPN’s move away from an all-sports-all-the-time mantra also should not hold your breath waiting for a change.

“ESPN has made it clear: It’s not sticking to sports.”

Aaron Blake, Washington Post: White House says Jemele Hill calling Trump a racist is a ‘fireable offense.’ Trump once called Obama a racist.

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Jim Brady, ESPN: New ESPN guidelines recognize connection between sports, politics (April 4)

Philip Bump, Washington Post: Trump’s press secretary offers suggested punishments for two Trump critics

Bryan Curtis, theringer.com: Deep Six: Jemele Hill and the Fight for the Future of ESPN

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Jarvis DeBerry: NOLA.com | Times-Picayune: ESPN’s Jemele Hill was spot-on when she called Donald Trump a white supremacist

Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated: ESPN Employees Respond to Jemele Hill Controversy over Trump Comments

Kevin Draper, New York Times: Comments by Jemele Hill of ESPN a ‘Fireable Offense,’ White House Says

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David Mack, BuzzFeed: The White House Says ESPN Should Fire Jemele Hill For Calling Trump An Ignorant White Supremacist

National Association of Black Journalists: Statement from the National Association of Black Journalists on Jemele Hill

Nicholas Parco, Daily News, New York: Colin Kaepernick shows support for Jemele Hill and her tweet calling President Trump a ‘white supremacist’

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Carron J. Phillips, Daily News, New York: Jemele Hill is right and ESPN has an identity issue

Charles P. Pierce, Sports Illustrated: White House’s Call for Jemele Hill’s Firing Is Trip to Edges of Crazytown

Brian Stelter, CNN Media: ESPN says it accepts Jemele Hill’s apology after anti-Trump tweets

TMZ: Al Sharpton We’ll Boycott ESPN If Jemele Hill Gets Fired

Erik Wemple, Washington Post: Politico editor: We discard ‘dozens’ of potential hires over toxic Twitter feeds

A Town Loves Back Its ‘Unapologetically Black’ Anchor

800 Invited Guests Pay Tribute to Jim Vance

After a two-hour tribute to Washington, D.C., anchor Jim Vance on Tuesday, “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews and local NBC anchor Leon Harris agreed: “Nobody committed the cardinal sin of talking about himself,” Matthews told Journal-isms, acknowledging etiquette that Matthews said he also needed to heed. The selflessness and deference to the man of the hour, they said, was the power of Vance.

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“Every single one had something to share about their love for this guy,” said Harris, a recent arrival at Vance’s shop from rival WJLA-TV.

“It says so much about this guy. I’m now shaking in my shoes, ‘cause I realize what this man meant to this town. It’s humbling to walk down the same hallways.” And Vance did it “just by being himself,” Harris said.

Eight hundred people were at Washington’s National Cathedral Tuesday morning for an invitation-only memorial service for Vance, which was televised on NBC’s owned-and-operated WRC-TV.

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Vance had become such a local icon that in June his image was unveiled on the outdoor wall of Ben’s Chili Bowl, a favorite tourist spot. He spent 48 years at WRC before succumbing to lung cancer July 22 at age 75.

The two-hour service at Washington National Cathedral was as close to a party as you could have in such grandiose surroundings,Roxanne Roberts wrote Tuesday in the Washington Post.

“There was lots of music, laughter and a guest list of Washington’s broadcasting and political elite: the entire Channel 4 family, of course, plus Gordon Peterson, Paul Berry, Arch Campbell, Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Willard Scott, Mayor Muriel Bowser, former attorney general Eric Holder and Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. . . .”

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Vance was proud of his Philadelphia roots even as he and the nation’s capital embraced each other, but he had more than local significance. An inductee into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, Vance became an example of the importance of local news anchors.

“I don’t know of anything definitive recently that’s been written about the importance of local anchors,” Mike Cavender, then executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, told Journal-isms after Vance’s passing.

“News research, generally, shows they are among the most trusted components of TV News in terms of trustworthiness and believability….and are a major reason why local TV news is among the most trusted news sources of them all in the United States. Jim Vance is certainly a classic example of that on so many levels…and his tenure at WRC-TV is a major reason why that station for so long has been at the top of the ratings in DC.”

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Bowser told the crowd, Vance “didn’t just deliver the news, he engaged in a conversation with us.” His co-anchor Doreen Gentzler reminded the audience that for all Vance’s comfort in his own skin and other personal attributes, he was a skilled reporter who could edit adeptly on the fly as the Teleprompter rolled.

A reporter interviews retired weather anchor Willard Scott outside the Washington National Cathedral. (Richard Prince)

Some said afterward that they were surprised that the service was “unapologetically black,” as NBC’s Craig Melvin, the master of ceremonies, described Vance himself. That was no small feat in a town once known as “Chocolate City” but where gentrification has eroded that sobriquet. A recent book has rechristened D.C. “Cappuccino City.” Yet, as the Undefeated writer Mike Wise said of Vance when the service ended, “He was a hero to all of Washington.”

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The program featured several of Vance’s red-coated Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers from Cheyney State College in the early 1960s. Led by Kenneth “QP” Hamilton, who first met Vance in 1960, they sang the Kappa anthem. They recalled that the late Ed Bradley, who went on to become the noted “60 Minutes” correspondent, was Vance’s roommate.

The Moonlighters, a doo-wop group all sporting royal blue ties and dark suits, underscored Vance’s love of that genre — he and his Cheyney football teammates would sing on the bus ride home after inevitably losing away games. The Moonlighters’ song of choice for this occasion was, “You Gave Me Peace of Mind.”

The Howard University Gospel Choir represented the black religious tradition, singing “Goin’ Up Yonder” early in the service.

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And in a voice reminiscent of Paul Robeson, one listener said, Pastor Wintley Phipps, an education activist and founder of the U.S. Dream Academy, which runs an after-school mentoring program, sang “We Shall Overcome.”

Still, Cheney alum Wendell Whitlock noted, Vance and his buddies could also sing challenging operatic passages.

As befit the occasion, the speakers told anecdotes. Melvin recalled that on arriving to town, Vance invited him to partake of the best steaks in Washington. The establishment turned out to be a strip club. “He wanted to see what kind of a guy I was,” Melvin related. “Would I freak out?” Melvin said he didn’t.

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Longtime radio and television host Donnie Simpson told of the friendship he and Vance developed, with Vance taking the younger man under his wing. At first Simpson was surprised to find that “their anchor desk was as black as the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line. So this is the Chocolate City I’ve heard so much about?” he mused.

Though Vance never knew Simpson’s father, when the anchor heard of his passing, he flew to Detroit to attend the funeral, returning to D.C. in time for his 6 p.m. news broadcast. “That’s how you tell a brother you love him,” Simpson said.

Later, Simpson told of turning down a radio contract because “sometimes when you grab the money on the table, you leave your dignity on the floor.” Vance signaled his approval during his newscast that night.

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Johnny Allen alluded to Vance’s public battles with cocaine addiction, declaring, “you have to find joy in who you are.”

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Vance’s stepson, Brendon Pinkard, echoed that. Of what he gleaned from anecdotes about his father, Pinkard said, what most came through was “how he made them feel when they were around him. He made them feel as though they were the most important person in the room.”

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Hamilton, Vance’s Kappa comrade, approved of the service. “Even though he said he didn’t want anything like this, he would have been pleased,” Hamilton said. “I know. I was his buddy. All he said was ‘have a big party and drink some tequila.’ “

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, seated behind former attorney general Holder and his wife, Sharon Malone, also was pleased. “It was uplifting,” Wilbon said after the service. “I’m not in awe of many people,” as he is constantly around celebrities, Wilbon said, “but Vance is one.” He cited the hometown hero’s charisma and authenticity.

“I don’t have many heroes. I was always in awe of him ‘til the day he died.”

Mike Wise, the Undefeated: Television anchor Jim Vance was a hero in black Washington (July 24)

WRC-TV, Washington: Celebrating the Life of Jim Vance (videos and text)

Omarosa Reportedly Isolated in White House

Omarosa Manigault Newman

Omarosa Manigault made her name as one of reality TV’s most notorious and hated personalities: the breakout star on season one of Donald Trump’s NBC series The Apprentice,” Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng reported Tuesday for the Daily Beast.

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“Thirteen-years later, she is in the White House, not on a makeshift television set. But she’s still trying to win Trump’s favor and she still has the same villainous image she earned on NBC.

“According to four sources in and outside the West Wing, the longtime Trump confidant is isolated inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as she quietly plots against her fellow senior officials.

“Colleagues regularly complain about Manigault’s behavior and work ethic. She frequently derails internal meetings with irrelevant or counterproductive interjections and she’s earned a reputation for attempting to micromanage White House communications operations.

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“White House chief of staff John Kelly has tried to curtail Manigault’s direct access to the president, as The Daily Beast reported earlier this month. But her continued proximity to Trump — he speaks with her over the phone, even in the middle of the night — underscores just how thorny her tenure has been for those tasked with managing the administration. . . . .”

Markay and Suebsaeng also wrote, “White House officials say that during meetings that include Manigault, aides will often take out their smartphones and start messaging each other saying they wished she would stop talking or leave the room entirely. . . .”

Omarosa Newman, her married name, was also mentioned in a Friday story by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush in the New York Times.

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“At a staff meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, announced a number of seemingly quotidian internal moves, capped by the appointment of Kirstjen Nielsen — his brusque, no-nonsense longtime aide — as an assistant to the president and his principal deputy,” they wrote.”She is also responsible for keeping Mr. Kelly’s no-fly list of aides he deems to be unfit to attend serious meetings, the most prominent of whom is Omarosa Manigault, the former ‘Apprentice’ star with an ill-defined job and a penchant for dropping into meetings where she was not invited. . . .”

Brendan Smith teaches his partner, Tyrice Hester, how to float, Toronto 2016. (Zun Lee via New York Times)

Photographers of Color Let Editors Know They Exist

Brent Lewis, 27, has created a website with a searchable database of some 340 experienced photographers of color with details and contacts exclusively for photo editors, James Estrin and David Gonzalez reported Wednesday for the “Lens” blog of the New York Times.

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The move is part of Diversify Photo, a new organization devoted to ‘creating a place where people can come and see photographers of color, to know they are out there and they exist, and to provide editors with the ability to find people not in their circles.’

“Earlier this year, Mr. Lewis and Andrea Wise, a freelance photo editor, put out an open call on social media to photographers who identify as ‘being of color.’ One thousand five hundred people replied and filled out the questionnaire.

“With the assistance of a team of editors including Elijah Sinclair Walker, Jennifer [Samuel] and Jehan Jillani of National Geographic; Jessie Wender and Elizabeth Krist, formerly of National Geographic; Dudley Brooks of The Washington Post; and Michael Wichita of AARP. They winnowed the list to about 340 who they had confidence would be consistent in fulfilling freelance assignment work.

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“Diversify Photo . . . whose website is sponsored by Visura, which itself was founded by Adriana Teresa Letorney, a Puerto Rican media entrepreneur — will create educational, career development and mentorship programs for photographers of color including college students, Mr. Lewis said.

“He also plans to work with like-minded groups like Women Photograph and Reclaim to push for more diverse perspectives in visual storytelling. Broadening perspectives on race, class and gender is a much-needed challenge to traditional approaches that reinforce ‘a monolithic point of view,’ said Rhea Combs, curator of film and photography at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. . . .”

The piece includes this passage about this column’s perspective:

“The desire to have their voices heard — and the issues that mattered covered — has long been of concern in the African-American community, said Richard Prince, the editor of Journal-isms, a website devoted to diversity in journalism. He dates it to the country’s first black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, whose editors declared in 1827: ‘We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.’

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“While a similar impulse led to the creation of influential, black-owned newspapers like The Chicago Defender, it was not enough to influence mainstream media. Indeed, among the sobering findings of the Kerner Commission report after urban unrest in the 1960s was a call for more diversity in mainstream media. [PDF, go to Chapter 15]

“ ‘The industry began to stir itself out of complacency in 1978, when the American Society of News Editors started a staff census of newspapers around the country. When the group found that the percentage of minority journalists in American newsrooms was just 3.95 percent in 1978, it set an industry goal to match the percentage of journalists to the percentage of people of color in the general population by the year 2000.

“The goal was not met, with the percentage of minorities in newsrooms hovering at between 12 to 17 percent for the last decade. Instead, 2025 was set as the new target. This does not surprise Mr. Prince, who had been an editor at The Washington Post. Despite improvements in some newsrooms during the 1980s and 1990s, progress has stalled as the industry faced economic and structural upheaval.

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“ ‘The rise of the internet, and the precariousness of the financial condition of newspapers, caused a lot of the owners to forget all about diversity and say, “We have to worry about own bottom line and survival,” not realizing that what also was happening at the same time were demographic changes in the population that made diversity even more important because the consumer base was changing,’ he said. ‘It’s supposed to be a majority minority country by 2050, I believe.’

“In addition to bringing about a cultural shift within companies, there needs to be accountability, too. Mr. Prince echoed the sentiment of many when he said that hiring needs to reflect diversity goals, which may come only through the recognition of the power of one particular color: green. ‘If you don’t produce diversity among the section that you are responsible for, then your salary is affected,’ Mr. Prince said. ‘That gets people’s attention.’ . . . “

Pablo Manriquez, HuffPost: Award-Winning Latina Photojournalist Chronicles Houston’s Undocumented Hurricane Victims

Nina Garcia Named Editor of Elle Magazine

Nina Garcia

Nina Garcia will be the next editor of Elle magazine, Hearst announced Tuesday morning,” Matthew Schneier reported Tuesday for the New York Times.

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“Until now the creative director of Marie Claire magazine, Ms. Garcia has a name and a tart take on style known to millions in her capacity as a longtime judge on ‘Project Runway.’ She is also the author of four books on fashion.

“ ‘Look at the issue of empowerment around young working women and the obsession with fashion and beauty. The Elle woman is sexy, passionate, loves her work, is social. She’s someone global millennial women aspire to, and no one represents that more than Nina,’ said Joanna Coles, the chief content officer of Hearst Magazines, in an interview on Tuesday with Ms. Garcia and David Carey, the president of Hearst Magazines.

“ ‘I understand firsthand what the DNA is,’ Ms. Garcia said. ‘I am looking to amplify the DNA of the brand. It’s bold, it’s provocative, it’s inclusive, democratic, it’s innovative. I just want to amplify all those things we know about Elle.’

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“She said that she would continue Elle’s tradition of celebrating diversity and emerging voices and work closely with the 46 international editions to share talent globally. Her first issue is likely to be February or March 2018.

“Ms. Garcia, 50, has been creative director of Marie Claire since 2012; before that, she was the magazine’s fashion director from 2008 to 2012. Her new post is a return to Elle, where she was the fashion director from 2000 to 2008. . . .”

In a 2007 interview with Hispanic Business magazine, the Colombian-born Garcia said, “My biggest influence was my mother and again growing up in that South American culture. Latin American women really put a lot of effort into the way they look. It’s a cultural thing. It’s also like European women, it’s a thing of tradition. . . .”

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She also said, “Every time we’ve had a Latin on our cover it’s been an enormously successful cover. Shakira was enormous. Jennifer Lopez and Eva Mendes, huge. There has not been one Latin that we’ve had that has not been an enormous success on the cover; the demographics are there. Latin women spend a lot of money in beauty and they spend a lot of money in fashion. It’s in our culture. . . .”

Columnist Says ‘NFL Doesn’t Respect Humanity’

Jerry Brewer

The epiphany came last weekend, and then dread followed,” sports columnist Jerry Brewer wrote Friday in the Washington Post. “While shopping for soccer cleats, my 5-year-old son looked up and said, ‘Dad, the sport I really want to play and care about is football.’

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“Heart, meet stomach. It’s amazing how children can crystallize your beliefs. For years, I have had these conflicting emotions about how and why I cover football — particularly the NFL — but one little boy’s comment cut through the mixed feelings.

“ ‘No,’ I thought. ‘Hell no. I’ll find a way to destroy the game before you invest your mind — and definitely your body — in that misguided sport.’

“ ‘Well, Miles, we’ll see,’ I actually said. ‘That’s a few years away. Maybe you can play some flag football when you get a little older.’

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“He moved on and started obsessing over some toy. If only it were that easy for the rest of us to transition from America’s favorite troubled pastime.

“This isn’t merely about the dangers of playing football. My son stirred some deeper thoughts. It’s not that I hate the game; it’s that my distrust of its stewards is at an all-time high, and the NFL leads the way with its clumsy, reckless and self-serving leadership. The problem isn’t one thing. It’s the whole buffet.

“I dread the start of another NFL season. I dread it because obsession is about to drown out concern again. I dread that my work is about to help fuel this obsession. Every sport has issues, but the attention the NFL receives and the money it makes allow for blind arrogance to take over every fall and winter. The NFL has suffered some dings to its popularity, but the damage is minor thus far, barely noticeable, which means the league will go on abusing responsibility and creating an awful example for how to maintain the game.

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“The issues are vast and diverse. They include the NFL’s ongoing failure to commit to a more responsible way to do objective research and protect its players from the effects of concussions and brain injuries caused by playing football. And the limited resources and lack of compassion given to retired athletes who wrecked their bodies to provide entertainment.

“And the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick and the overall NFL ambivalence toward its players’ legitimate concerns about equality and social justice. And the confusing and contradictory way that the league disciplines its players, from Tom Brady to Ezekiel Elliott, which consistently shows that it is more concerned about perception than fairness or rehabilitation. And the culture of fighting the players over every dime, which leads to contentious contract negotiations even for stars such as Le’Veon Bell and Aaron Donald.

“All of these grievances fall under one huge, disheartening umbrella: The NFL doesn’t respect humanity. Not like it should. . . .”

John Branch, New York Times: The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick

Rembert Browne, Bleacher Report: Colin Kaepernick Has a Job: Inside the past, present and future of this country’s most inconvenient truth, by way of the most controversial black man in America

Mike Hodge is shown at left in 2012 with Bobbi Bowman, Richard Prince and Leon Dash at the Rockville, Md., home of Ivan C. Brandon as members of the Metro Seven joined other Washington Post alumni and friends to commemorate the Seven’s 40th anniversary.

Mike Hodge Dies, an Activist on TV, in Newsroom

Mike Hodge, a member of the “Metro Seven” who challenged the Washington Post over discrimination in 1972 and went on to become an actor and an officer of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, died in New York on Saturday at age 70.

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He died in Harlem Hospital after a heart attack, his sister, Karen Hodge Thomas, told Journal-isms on Tuesday.

Hodge, who grew up in grew up in McDowell County, W.Va., joined the Post in 1969. His is the first loss among members of the Metro Seven, whose complaint before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission inspired actions by women and journalists of color at the Post and at other news outlets during the 1970s and 1980s.

Hodge left the Post in the mid-1970s to pursue an acting career, early on with the D.C. Black Repertory Co., founded by Robert Hooks. He maintained his commitment to social justice as president of the New York unit of SAG-AFTRA and second national vice president of the national union. He won re-election in New York just last month.

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Hodge first won a SAG national board seat in 2001 and was elected New York division president in 2010,” Dave McNary reported Monday for Variety. “Hodge’s acting included recurring work on ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Fringe,’ as well as film, commercial, and stage work, including four Broadway shows including ‘Fences’ and ‘A Few Good Men.’ He was also an audiobook narrator, having narrated books by Steve Harvey and Mitch Albom. . . .” He was known to others for his roles in Midas Muffler commercials.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a message to board members, “Through nearly 16 years of service, we came to know his wit, his generous nature and his insight. Mike had a deep love for the work we do as performers and enjoyed every character he brought to life on stage, television or film. We all relied on his kindness and his vibrant spirit to help guide us as we focused on the union and its members.”

He appeared in recurring roles on “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as well as in commercials, such as ads for Midas Mufflers.

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A memorial service took place Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., at Benta’s Funeral Home, 630 St. Nicholas Ave., New York, NY 10030. The two-hour service was at capacity, with 150 to 175 people, Chontel Harris, a funeral director, said by telephone on Thursday. Many spoke.

“A Celebration of Life highlighting Mike’s wonderful acting career and significant contributions to the profession will be held in October 2017. Announcement of the date and venue for this event will be made later,” according to an announcement from Karen Hodge Thomas.

She elaborated later for Journal-isms, “The October event will be much more celebratory as well as larger in scope and audience size. It will be in a theater and feature Mike’s career from start to finish. A gala for Mike, if you will.”

Lowery Book on Police Relations Optioned as Drama

AMC has put in development a drama based on Wesley Lowery’s bestselling nonfiction book They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice,” Nellie Andreeva reported Monday for Deadline: Hollywood. “It comes from Brad Weston’s Makeready and writer LaToya Morgan (Into the Badlands, Turn: Washington’s Spies).” Lowery is a Washington Post reporter.

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“Published in 2016 by Little, Brown & Company, the book was acquired by Makeready last fall. It examines how decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and too few jobs has led to the high-profile cases of police brutality in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and elsewhere and the birth of Black Lives Matter movement seeking justice for the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray. . . .”


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Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.