Richard Sherman  
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Player's Comments Prompt Debate Over 'T-Word'

"Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman held a press conference Wednesday in which he addressed the backlash to his fiery post-game rant this week and the fact that so many people called him a thug," Josh Feldman wrote Wednesday for Mediaite.


"In fact the word was dropped quite a lot this week, and Sherman said it's 'disappointing' to hear so many people use the term. He even went so far as to say it's a more socially acceptable way of calling someone a n—ger.

"Sherman’s comments drew out some real racism online, with people actually dropping the n-word to disparage him, but most people stuck to criticizing him as a 'thug.' Sherman already addressed that term in a column he wrote, but today he went one step further to fire back against that particular criticism.

" 'It seems like it's the accepted way of calling somebody the n-word nowadays. It's like everybody else said the n-word and then they say "thug" and they're like, "Oh, that's fine." ' "


On Deadspin, Greg Howard added Monday, "When you're a public figure, there are rules. Here's one: A public personality can be black, talented, or arrogant, but he can't be any more than two of these traits at a time. It's why antics and soundbites from guys like Brett Favre, Johnny Football and Bryce Harper seem almost hyper-American, capable of capturing the country's imagination, but black superstars like Sherman, Floyd Mayweather, and Cam Newton are seen as polarizing, as selfish, as glory boys, as distasteful and perhaps offensive."

Deadspin ran a chart showing that "on Monday, people said thug on TV more often than on any other day in the past three years" — 625 times.

Blogger Jeff Pearlman said the episode demonstrated another fact about television. Erin Andrews, the Fox sideline reporter who interviewed Sherman when made his remarks, was "a deer in headlights. She did not know what to do or what to say or how to respond. Someone in the control booth clearly told her to send things away from Sherman — and she did. In short, she wasn't to be trusted with the situation, and Fox's heads knew it. As much as America responded negatively to Sherman, he was also — after a must-see game — must-see television. Why was he so angry? How far did this go back? Did it stem from something? Would he confront Crabtree afterward? . . . ,"  a reference to  San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the target of his rant.


"Andrews, however, was not signed away from ESPN (by Fox) because she's a high-caliber reporter, or because she possesses a unique view of the game, or incredible knowledge. She was hired away from ESPN (by Fox) because guys think she's hot. . . ."

On TV One's "News One Now," hosted by Roland Martin, the Sherman episode led to an exchange between two African American commentators, Martin and Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.

"The reactions to Sherman led to a discussion of the ways in which black men feel pressure to modulate their emotions," Tommy Christopher reported for Mediate. "Early in the segment, Martin shared how he felt there was a double-standard at CNN, whereby viewers felt that Martin was 'angry' or 'upset,' but 'I would look at the white guy sitting next to me, and he was "passionate" and "focused," and things along those lines,' and wondered 'How does that then translate to who gets a show?'


"Page responded that 'You can’t say that black folks aren't making it in television,' and added 'Who can anticipate what the chemistry is that will make people tune in? You can be an Oprah, who's very congenial and open and welcoming, or you can be a… I'm trying to think of a black equivalent to a Bill O'Reilly, but nobody’s really given him a chance.'

" 'That’s my point!' Martin exclaimed, adding 'A white man gets to walk through, a white woman gets to… frankly, you can do you!'

"Later, Martin shared a tweet from a black viewer who tweeted 'So-and-so was acting like an n-word,' and Martin asked 'Why is it that you couldn’t just disagree with him, but you had to go there?'


"Page responded 'Maybe they really were acting like a n-word.'

" 'Well, what the hell is that?' Martin asked.

" 'It's like Chris Rock said, there's black folks, and there’s you-know-who,' Page answered.


"Martin pointed out that Rock later retired and disavowed the routine.

“ 'White people shouldn't do it, as we saw in one episode of The Office,' Page said, 'but there is a difference.'

" 'But what is the difference?' Roland asked. 'What elevates someone (to) "Now, you’re acting like a n-word'? How do you even define what that is?'


" 'The dude who broke into my car last week,' Page offered.

" 'How about he's just simply a robber? Because if a white guy broke into your car, would he be the n-word?' Roland asked.

" 'Well, it depends,' Page said, then said that black people have to 'deal in the reality' of a world where stereotypes exist.


"Martin asked 'Do we deal in that reality, or do we make the focus to change that reality?'

"Page later said, of Sherman, 'I don't care how many degrees you've got, if you're going to behave like a thug, you're going to invite that kind of…'

" 'How did he behave like a thug?' Roland interrupted. 'He didn’t cuss anybody out, he didn't swing at anybody, I've seen baseball managers sling bases, throw coolers, go nuts, and you know what they say? That's the game.' . . . "


Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Hater nation 

Rembert Browne, Grantland: Stanford Man: Richard Sherman and the Thug Athlete Narrative 

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Richard Sherman Is Better at Life Than You

Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Richard Sherman's Best Behavior

Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune: Richard Sherman called the most horrible things by folks who insist that's not racism


Arturo R. García, Racialicious: Richard Sherman and Respectability Politics in Sports

Ricardo A. Hazell, the Shadow League: Richard Sherman Blitzes Reporters Over the "T" Word

Bobby Kaple, CBS Los Angeles: Richard Sherman’s Father On Backlash Of Postgame Rant: 'People Really Just Misunderstand My Son'


Stefen Lovelace, the Grio: In defense of Richard Sherman: Saying you're the best doesn’t make you a villain

Mark Memmott, NPR: Think You Know Richard Sherman After His 'Rant'? Maybe Not

Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: Sports Illustrated's Highest Traffic Day Ever Comes Via Richard Sherman Column


William C. Rhoden, New York Times: Seahawks' Richard Sherman, Like Cornerbacks Before Him, Plays Man-to-Man and Goes Toe to Toe

Noah Rothman, Mediaite: WaPo Columnist Rips Racist Reaction to Richard Sherman: 'Plantation Politics' 'Permeates' Society

Richard Sherman blog, Sports Illustrated: 'To Those Who Would Call Me a Thug or Worse …' 


Ex-NBC Latino Writer Questions NBC's Commitment

"Last Friday, they turned off the lights and let go of four of the seven staffers at NBC Latino, reassigning the others," Adrian Carrasquillo wrote Tuesday for BuzzFeed. "The site, where I worked from 2011 until last year, was an ambitious, award-winning English-language news site aimed at the Hispanic community.

"Back on the fourth floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, our boss, Chris Peña, used to say: 'We've succeeded when we can shut down the website.' We’ve accomplished our mission, he meant, when identifying, covering, and advancing stories that impact the Latino community is a vibrant part of the company’s DNA. I don't think anyone who follows mainstream media would say that's close to being true today.


"Having Latino journalists in the newsroom is not some bullshit exercise on a diversity checklist, but an acknowledgement that the newsroom should reflect the country, the people you are writing about, the audience. It is, moreover, an obvious practical advantage: Every journalist brings his or her roots and experience to the job, and a newsroom can't afford to be cut off culturally from a huge piece of American life in the 21st century. . . ."

The staffers let go apparently are Nina Terrero, entertainment editor; Kristina Puga, feature writer; Betty Cortina, consulting senior Web producer; and Peña, executive editor.

The site, now part of, appears to have been static for the past few days. Kathy Kelly-Brown, spokeswoman for NBC Universal, did not respond to a request for comment.


Twitter to Capitalize on Large User Base of People of Color

"For most of its rather short life, Twitter Inc. . . . rarely mentioned that its user base is more racially diverse than U.S. Internet users as a whole. Now, as a newly minted public company needing to generate revenue, it is moving to capitalize on its demographics," Yoree Koh reported Monday for the Wall Street Journal.

"As a newly minted public company, Twitter is constantly looking at new revenue streams. Its latest quest: Capitalize on demographics.


"In November, Twitter hired marketing veteran Nuria Santamaria to a new position as multicultural strategist, leading its effort to target black, Hispanic and Asian-American users.

"Together, those groups account for 41% of Twitter's 54 million U.S. users, compared with 34% of the users of rival Facebook . . . and 33% of all U.S. Internet users, according to Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.

"Ms. Santamaria says advertisers want to know more about racial and ethnic minorities on Twitter, from basic numbers to the languages in which they tweet. Last month, Twitter began showing ad agencies data from a coming report saying that Hispanics tweet more often than other users and activity among them rises when the conversation is about technology. . . ."


Soraya Nadia McDonald, Washington Post: Black Twitter: A virtual community ready to hashtag out a response to cultural issues

News Reports Tip Us to People to Avoid on the King Holiday

"Civil rights leaders are calling for the expulsion of members of the Arizona State University chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity who planned and participated in a Martin Luther King Jr.-themed party that mocked black people," Saba Hamedy reported Tuesday for the Los Angeles Times.


"The fraternity suffered a public backlash Tuesday after photos were posted over the weekend of party attendees wearing stereotypical clothing, such as baggy basketball jerseys, bandannas and baseball caps worn backward, and drinking out of watermelon cups. Students used hashtags such as #blackoutformlk, #ihaveadream and #mlkparty to accompany their photos.

"In an email statement to the Los Angeles Times, ASU officials said the fraternity, which has been on disciplinary probation since 2012, had been officially suspended. . . ."

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an Arizona civil rights activist, told Journal-isms by telephone that the protest was held in front of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix because the university was moving more of its operations to that location.


In a King Day commentary, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly said, " 'Talking Points' believes that minority Americans do — do have a much tougher time succeeding in the marketplace generally speaking than affluent whites, for example. But it all comes down to something that is accessible in America: education and personal responsibility. Black Americans should understand that if they study and work hard they will likely succeed in this country. And that's the message about race that all good and honest people should be promoting.", meanwhile, compiled "this year's winners of the most inappropriate attempts at viral success" for the King holiday:

"USA Today Stars from all over the entertainment industry honored King and wished followers a happy MLK Day on Twitter. They included Justin Bieber, Jamie Foxx and Lenny Kravitz.


"CNN Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin reposted a quote from King's famous 'I Have A Dream' speech — and took a swipe against President Barack Obama at the same time. 'Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card,' she said in a Facebook post Monday.

"RT [television network] The United States Marine Corps was forced to apologize over the weekend after social media accounts administered by the Armed Forces branch published an off-color remark about King. Ahead of the federal holiday held each January in honor of King, the Marine Corps Special [Operations] Command sent a message early Friday over both Twitter and Facebook in which a gunman in full military garb is seen aiming his assault weapon out of an open window.

"KTLA The owner of a Michigan party space canceled a controversial twerking event after the promoter created flyers showing an altered image of King wearing a gold chain and flashing what appeared to be a gang sign. The event, dubbed the 'Freedom 2 Twerk' party was set to be held at Flint's Social Network Event Center ahead of the MLK holiday."


. . . Editor Apologizes for Photo of Black Woman as Chair

"For some reason that's going to need a bit of explaining, someone designed a chair in the shape of a half-nude black woman," Josh Feldman wrote Tuesday for Mediaite. "And when magazine editor Dasha Zhukova sat down for an interview with online fashion site Buro 24/7, she literally sat down on that very mannequin for a photo, which did not go over well online, especially on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"Here’s the offending photo:

"That photo, of course, stirred an uproar, and Buro 24/7 quickly took the photo down and replaced it with a cropped version that did not show what Zhukova was sitting on. Miroslava Duma, the head of the site, apologized, saying 'we are against racism or gender inequality or anything that infringes upon anyone’s rights.' . . ."


Helena Andrews, Washington Post: Oliver Stone mourns his MLK biopic on Twitter

Sarah Dinell, Phoenix New Times: Black Leaders Call for Action After ASU Frat's "MLK Black Party"

Timothy Johnson, Media Matters for America: What Gun Advocates Get Wrong About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Our political pastime: Lying about race

Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: Too many misinterpret MLK's vision for America

Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Doctor deserved credit for saving King


Asian Journalists Board Committed to a Unity Alliance

The Asian American Journalists Association had 1,739 members in 2013, projects a net surplus for the year and its national board "remains committed to UNITY's founding mission of supporting newsroom diversity, and firmly believes in the need for an alliance that strives for this," National President Paul Cheung told members on Wednesday.

"2013 was a challenging year for the UNITY alliance partnership, with NAHJ's decision to leave the alliance as well as a vacancy in the organization's executive director position," Cheung wrote, referring to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "During this past year, including at our December governing board meeting, AAJA continued to maintain our individual relationships with former alliance members NABJ and NAHJ, as well, of course, with UNITY," using the acronym for the National Association of Black Journalists.


Cheung reported the membership numbers this way: "Full members: 907 / Gold Full: 174 / Platinum Full: 18 Associate: 141 / Gold Associate: 14; Students: 455 ; Others: 15 Retired / 6 Lifetime."

Transgender Snafu Said to Argue for More Diversity

"Writer Caleb Hannan was watching an infomercial touting a 'magical' golf putter late one night last year and got curious," Paul Farhi wrote Tuesday for the Washington Post. "A 'magical' putter? Who came up with such an idea?


"Seven months later, Hannan found the answer — and walked straight into an Internet firestorm.

"His 7,700-word piece, published last week in Grantland, the ESPN-owned sports and pop-culture digital magazine, revealed that the putter's inventor was a mysterious figure named Essay Anne Vanderbilt, a.k.a. Dr. V., and described how Dr. V. had misrepresented her credentials as a physicist. Toward the end of his story, Hannan also revealed something else: Dr. V. was a transgender woman — and she had committed suicide in the course of his reporting on her. . . . "

Responding in Grantland Monday to Hannan's piece, Christina Kahrl said of the transgender disclosure, "By any professional or ethical standard, that wasn't merely irrelevant to the story, it wasn't his information to share. Like gays or lesbians — or anyone else, for that matter — trans folk get to determine for themselves what they're willing to divulge about their sexuality and gender identity. As in, it's not your business unless or until the person tells you it is, and if it's not germane to your story, you can safely forgo using it. Unfortunately, he indulged his discovery. The story's problems include screw-ups you might expect for a writer or editors who aren't familiar with this kind of subject matter — misgendering and ambiguous pronoun usage upon making his needless discovery of Vanderbilt's past identity. . . ."


Kahrl also wrote, "I'm also angry because of the more fundamental problem that this story perpetuates. We're talking about a piece aimed at golf readers. So we're talking about a mostly white, mostly older, mostly male audience that wound up reading a story that reinforced several negative stereotypes about trans people. . . ."

Media critic Jay Rosen wrote, "Events by which 'Dr. V’s Magical Putter' came to be published are now the best argument I have for you about diversity — real intellectual and intercultural diversity — in the newsroom. 'Here is what can happen when you are not diverse enough. Like it?' "

Farhi reported that Grantland's editor in chief, Bill Simmons, "said that 'multiple lawyers' read the story before publication, as did more than a dozen editors and staffers at Grantland and the editor of All urged publication. But he acknowledged that it was 'an indefensible mistake' that the publication didn’t seek input from anyone in the transgender community. . . ."


Lauren Klinger and Kelly McBride, Poynter Institute: Lessons learned from Grantland's tragic story on Dr. V

Insult to Indians Escapes Outrage of Non-Native Journalists

When L. Brooks Patterson, county executive in Oakland County, Mich., said in this week's New Yorker magazine, "You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That's just a call for a carjacking," he followed it with, "I made a prediction a long time ago, and it's come to pass. I said, 'What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.' "


Writing Wednesday for the Indian Country Today Media Network, Simon Moya-Smith, an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, told of his reaction. "Jesus!, I thought. This man just called for the death of everyone in Detroit! Oh, God, please, I implored, let a single big-name news broadcaster catch this direct reference to germ warfare! But I knew all too well what was already being drafted. My fellow journos of the non-Native kind courted his two cents re: commerce and not his racist bellow."

Moya-Smith continued, "I understand Patterson spat on the face of Detroit, and, rightfully, the nitwitted ninnyhammer should face the fire he flamed, but when someone references smallpox blankets (deliberate extermination), 'herding' Indians (Trail of Tears, anyone?) and then building a fence (Auschwitz? … Hello?), you don't quote passersby about all of the activities of the science center, or how may restaurants they haven't tried yet.

"But this is America, Jack – a red, white and blue monument to willful ignorance, to sweeping under rugs and to skeletons in closets. . . ."


Moya-Smith also wrote, "And that same spirit of resistance is why I became a journalist. There are far too few Native Americans in newsrooms. Seriously, folks, I see more African American coverage, Latino coverage and Asian coverage by newsrooms which have a larger demographic of African Americans, Latinos and Asians. Hearken! We need more Native American journalists at major networks, so when they, the captains of newsrooms, run down that revered Diversity List of theirs you can stand up and boom, 'Your list needs some revision.' . . ."

Short Takes

NPR debuted the series "Views from Latino America" on Tuesday, beginning with a poll that "parsed responses from six separate Latino groups, and also compared the experiences of Latinos born in the U.S. with immigrants. . . . Pieces are being reported by Code Switch, the NPR team covering race, ethnicity and culture, along with reporters from the Science and National desks. Coverage will air all week on both Morning Edition and All Things Considered, with additional perspective at NPR's Code Switch blog. Follow the conversations @nprcodeswitch and #LatinoViews." Nearly one in five (19 percent) Latinos said diabetes is the biggest health problem facing their families.


Askia Muhammad of the Washington Informer, part of the National Newspaper Publishers Association delegation that took an expenses-paid trip to Morocco, wrote Wednesday that "I am one with Moroccans" but that Moroccans are wrong to demonize neighboring Algeria. Among other reasons, "The Moroccans . . . don't recognize that Frantz Fanon, an Algerian psychiatrist is a folk hero among the downtrodden — especially Blacks in the U.S. — whose analysis of the degree to which colonial mentality immobilizes subject people is also a part of the vocabulary of people yearning to be free. . . ." Inhabitants of Western Sahara, ruled by Morocco, call themselves "the last colony in Africa."

The editor of a second ImpreMedia weekly has been laid off as the company restructures operations and revises editorial strategy of its weekly publications, Veronica Villafañe reported Monday for her Media Moves column. "María Antonieta Mejía, Managing Editor of San Francisco's El Mensajero, had been with the company more than 8 years." As reported here Monday, the editorial staff of La Prensa Orlando was let go. "El Mensajero, La Prensa and Rumbo will now each have a local editor and will hire freelance writers as needed," Villafañe wrote.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, "suggested that broadcasting was less critical than ever before to insuring diversity of voices," John Eggerton reported Thursday for Broadcasting & Cable. At a Minority Media and Telecommunications Council Media and Social Justice conference in Washington, Wheeler "said the focus should be on 'new network realities,' rather that 'refighting the struggles of the past.' He called it 'outrageous' that there is 'no minority ownership of television stations in America.' " Eggerton also wrote, "Wheeler said the opportunities are to be had in the 'fourth network revolution,' which is broadband. . . ."


Endorsing FCC proposals to revitalize AM radio, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council said in papers filed Wednesday with the FCC, "The survival of minority ownership in broadcasting is closely linked to the ability of AM radio to thrive because over two-thirds of minority broadcast owners are on the AM band. In 2011, the last year for which the FCC released data, racial minorities held majority ownership in 237, or only 6.2 percent of commercial AM stations. Of the 559 broadcast stations (AM/FM/TV) held by minorities, 409, or . . . t 73 percent, of them were AM licensees held by Hispanic and other racial minorities, as categorized by the Commission. Minority ownership in radio, while underrepresented, is actually far higher than in any other FCC-licensed technology. . . ."

"Francisco Cortés, who in October of 2010 launched and since then has overseen the daily operations of the website, has been promoted from Director to VP of Fox News Latino," Veronica Villafañe reported Tuesday for Media Moves. "He is the first Hispanic to hold a VP position within the news division of Fox News channel. . . ."

C-SPAN2's "After Words" plans to air a discussion with Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of "Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States," hosted by Tanzina Vega of the New York Times, debuting at 10 p.m. ET Saturday. C-SPAN2 also plans a discussion at 7 p.m. ET with Georgetown Law Center professor Paul Butler about his book, "Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice." On C-SPAN3, American History TV plans three programs starting at 8 p.m. on race and the Civil War, including African Americans in Civil War Washington and a class taught by University of Maryland, Baltimore County associate professor Anne Sarah Rubin on how the Civil War was remembered in the decades after the conflict, with a focus on the former Confederate states. A Sunday program airing at 8:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m. and midnight ET examines the racial views of Edith Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt's second wife. Biographer Lewis Gould "argues that a careful reading of her private correspondence reveals racial views that go beyond what he calls the 'genteel bigotry' of her time."


"'20/20' anchor Elizabeth Vargas could be back on the air by Friday," Don Kaplan reported Wednesday for the Daily News in New York. "The 51-year-old ABC News veteran finished a second stint in rehab for alcohol abuse in November and was spotted in the office Monday and is expected to return to the show this week, network sources said. . . ."

April Woodard, a former "Inside Edition" correspondent, "is also the aunt of the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson. She spoke to Megan Alexander about the drive and determination that brought her nephew straight to this year's Super Bowl," the show reported.

"Authorities in Mauritania should drop charges against a journalist who has been detained since January 2," the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday. "Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed has been held in connection with an article he wrote that was deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad. . . . If convicted, the journalist could face the death penalty, according to news reports. No trial date has been set. . . ."


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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education ( Reprinted on The Root by permission.